Bud Jordahl: He will be remembered

Bud Jordahl was a great teacher, man and conservationist.

Some people will be remembered forever. Bud Jordahl is one of those people.

Bud Jorhahl was my grad school professor at the UW-Madison. He died May 11, 2010, and was honored April 11, 2011 at a reception at the Pyle Center.

This man’s environmental legacy was huge, but to me, he will always be remembered as a great teacher. He was kind, patient and generous. In retrospect, I see that he also served as a father figure. That’s probably why his loss is so profound. I grew up without a father and Professor Jordahl was everything I would have wanted in a father.  I felt safe and nurtured by this gentle man. He was never critical and always supportive.

My dad died when I was 10. He was sick with an incurable liver disease for all of my life, and as a result, I didn’t know him well. After he died, I lived in the shadow of a ghost father I yearned to know, but couldn’t. I was desperate to fill this hole and did so with food, alcohol and work. Though I didn’t know it then, Professor Jordahl filled that hole just a little bit, in a good way.

I am grateful his family shared him.

I saw Bud for the last time at the Earth Day Conference held at Monona Terrace in Madison in April 2010. I went to the conference specifically to hear him speak as I knew he was ailing. Ever the teacher, he asked me how I was doing and encouraged me in my work.  I felt humbled. He died one month later.

At the reception last week, his daughter Kari told me that she found my business card next to his computer. I had just given it to him at the Earth Day conference. He kept things like that. Once, he wrote me a note after I sent a donation to Gathering Waters, a nonprofit that he helped found. I was touched that such a busy man would write to me. That was Bud.

Bud Jordahl touched many, many people like this. He gave so much to the state and the nation and countless students. I suspect that those who knew him will carry on the Jordahl tradition in their own way. For me, that means being the best teacher I can be and continuing my work with kids and to continue writing.

I left the reception with his new book in hand – Environmental Politics and the Creation of a Dream: Establishing the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – freshly inspired to continue my work.

Yes, he will be remembered.

With a book and a portion of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway already named after him, yes, he will be remembered.

Diane Schwartz
My condolences to the Jordahl family.
Thank you for sharing your Dad.  

Conservation Giant: Bud Jordahl dies at 83

Bud Jordahl

Bud Jordahl died May 11, 2010.

He was my teacher in grad school.

He’s one of those teachers that you remember for a lifetime. He was kind, patient and giving. You knew he cared.  He inspired me to make a difference, which is what great teachers do.

My graduate research focused on the Lower Wisconsin River. He was passionate about the Lower Wisconsin River and was influential in getting me to fully understand the ramifications of preserving the scenic beauty of this amazing landscape. He introduced me to people at the National Parks Service and helped me organize a conference about the river. He treated me with respect and dignity.

Later, I visited his farm in Richland County and helped make maple syrup. When I went back to school to become a teacher, he wrote me a letter of encouragement. That meant a lot to me.

I saw him for the last time at the Earth Day at 40 Conference in Madison in April. He was the main reason I went and I’m glad I did.

Always the teacher, he was supportive of my work with kids.  If I could be just a little like him, I would be grateful.

In his lifetime, he championed so many environmental causes that it’s impossible to write them all down. Others have done that for me. You can read his obituary here http://uppitywis.org/service-monday-bud-jordahl-conservationenvironmental-giant.

He will be greatly missed.