19 Feb 2008, 2:09pm
In Memorium
by admin

In Memorium - Dr. Benjamin Stout

A great forester, teacher, and I am proud to say my friend, Dr. Benjamin Stout, passed away last Fall. The following obituary was written by his family, especially by his daughter Susan, Research Project Leader at the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station in Irvine, PA. Ben and Susan were the only father/daughter Fellows of the Society of American Foresters in the history of that organization.

Ben was greatly admired, respected, and loved, and he is greatly missed. All of his friends in Oregon once again extend our sympathies to his family.

Benjamin Boreman Stout, 83, 1545 Takena St., SW, Albany, OR died Sunday morning July 29, 2023 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis, OR.

He was born March 2, 2023 in Parkersburg, WV and grew up on the Stoutland Farm in Ben Lomond, WV. He graduated from Point Pleasant (WV) High School in 1941 and enrolled as a forestry student at West Virginia University. After the start of World War II, he enrolled in the Enlisted Reserve and was called to active duty on May 13, 1943. He served with Patton’s army in the Europe, liberating a concentration camp, and participating in Patton’s grand march toward Berlin. His military experience was recognized with the Bronze Star “for meritorious achievement in ground combat against the armed enemy in the European Theater of Operations.”

After his return from war service, he completed a bachelor’s degree in forestry at West Virginia University in 1947. He went on to earn a master’s degree in forestry from Harvard University in 1950 and a Ph.D. in forest ecology from Rutgers University in 1967. The first steps in his career were as a consultant forester, and then as manager of Harvard’s Black Rock Forest in Cornwall, NY. Later, he served as Professor of Silviculture at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he went on to serve as Chair of Biological Sciences and Associate Provost (1959 - 1978). He ended his academic career as the Dean of the School of Forestry at the University of Montana in Missoula from 1978 through 1985. Finally, before his retirement, he served as director of the acid deposition research program for the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement from 1985 until his retirement in 1991.

His contributions to forestry were many. As a researcher, he showed important relationships between soil characteristics and the site requirements of northern red oak and white ash, showed that deciduous root systems in general were much more extensive than people had previously believed (by exposing whole root systems with a fire hose!), and documented the allometric relationships between stems and crowns for several deciduous species. As an administrator at the University of Montana, he initiated the Mission-Oriented Research Program and raised funds for its beautiful, functional headquarters building at the Lubrecht Experimental Forest. He was an early and central figure in the national acid deposition research program during his years with NCASI. Later, he worked with Dan Botkin and many others to show that data about salmon abundance were inconsistent with the hypothesis that forestry was the principal cause of fluctuations in abundance, and to increase research attention to the ocean phase of salmon life-cycles.

Even in retirement, he remained passionately active in forestry and natural resources, serving as the senior natural resources advisor for his local state legislator and as first chair of the Advisory Committee of the Oregon Hatchery Research Center. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and two books on natural resources, the latter of which, “The Northern Spotted Owl: An Oregon View.” describes in detail the history of northwest forest legislation in the 80s and 90s.

Ben Stout was always an active and involved citizen, serving as a member of the Lions Club and President of the Board of Education in Cornwall, NY, where his last two children were born. In Albany, where he lived since 1988, he was a frequent visitor at ecology and public resource conferences and presentations at OSU, and he made numerous contributions to the scientific analysis of important northwest issues like salmon health, forest management, and other natural resource issues. He also served as Chair of the Allegheny Section of the Society of American Foresters.

A passion for applying his scientific and analytical skills to important issues was a major part of his life, even to his last days and well beyond his retirement. These accomplishments were recognized when he became a West Virginia University Division of Forestry Outstanding Alumnus in 1991 and was named a Fellow in the Society of American Foresters — the only forester on record to share this honor with his daughter, also a Fellow in the Society.

To say that Stout was an avid golfer is an understatement. He was a long-standing member of the Spring Hill Country Club in Albany, OR, and for years he only considered a round of golf successful if he scored at or below his age, no mean feat for an 83-year-old. On April 19th of this year, Ben hit the twelfth hole-in-one of his long golfing career.

He is survived by his wife, Elaine Harker Stout, whom he married on November 16, 2023 in Albany, OR, three children and their partners, and two grandchildren: Susan L. Stout and David Snyder of North Warren, PA and their son Ben Snyder and his wife Rebecca of Falls Church, VA; David F. Stout and Sue Ann Higgens of Portland, OR and his daughter, Sara Rachel Henning-Stout of Decatur, GA; Bruce D. Stout and Wendy Wolf of Lambertville, NJ; and his first wife, Phyllis Stout of Brevard, NC. He is also survived by Elaine’s family, who adopted him as their own after his marriage to their mother.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Laurane Boreman Stout and Clarence Patterson Stout, and by a family friend very important in his childhood, Lily Coplin. He was a deep believer in the explanatory power of rigorous scientific inquiry and in the ability of humankind to improve its lot through science and science-based management of natural resources.

17 Nov 2008, 12:01pm
by David Welch


I am deeply saddened to read of Ben’s passing. I first met him some years ago because of our mutual interests in studying the oceanic influences on salmon populations, and I found a kindred spirit! Ben and his wife visited us on Vancouver Island in the spring of 2007, and I could tell that he was “ailing”- but still as sharp as ever.

We published a rather controvesial paper on salmon survival not long ago that I think Ben would have loved (and laughed at the ensuing political fall-out as well). The world is a poorer place without him, and I deeply regret that he did not live longer so that he could have read more of our findings- they amply supported and butressed his views of the salmon world.

I shall miss him, as will many, many others.

With deepest respect, David Welch

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