Society of American Foresters

Northwest Regions

We Remember

Prior to publication, we received word of the passing of George Woordbury and Donald Wermlinger. Their obituaries will be included in the spring issue.

Robert “Bob” Johnstone 1945-2020

On November 30, 2020, Robert “Bob” K. Johnstone passed away in Olympia, Washington, after suffering a medical emergency. Bob served in the US Army during the Vietnam era and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

Bob attended Washington State University and received a degree in forestry. He was active in the Society of American Foresters and the Boy Scouts of America. Bob worked as a professional forester in western Washington for over 50 years. Bob enjoyed camping, gardening, scouting, and bird watching. He especially enjoyed spending time with his family— teaching the grandkids about trees, building campfires, and being good stewards of the earth. Bob was a loving husband, caring father and grandfather who cherished his three grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife June, his son Jeff and family, his grandson Liam, and his three brothers and their families: Jim Johnstone, Don Johnstone, and Lindsey Johnstone. All who knew Bob will miss him greatly as he was a beloved husband, devoted father, doting grandfather, and a loyal friend. A memorial service will be held followed by inurnment at the Tahoma National Cemetery for immediate family only. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Society of American Foresters.

Larry Adams 1947-2020

Larry Ralph Adams, 73, after a lengthy 14-year struggle with Parkinson’s and dementia, passed away peacefully at home on December 1, 2020, surrounded by his wife and his children. (They would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on December 12).

Larry was born in January 4,1947, in Ironton, Ohio, to Ralph and Wanda Adams. After graduating high school in 1964, he attended Ohio University for two years and spent those summers working for the Wayne National Forest office in Ohio. In the summer of 1967, he did smoke jumping in Missoula, Montana, and again in Alaska in 1971.

In March 1968, Larry volunteered to serve his country and enlist in the Army. While stationed at A Battery Nike Missile Site in Anchorage, Alaska, he met his future wife, Toni Kelm, on a blind date. They married on December 21, 1970. After his honorable discharge, Larry and Toni returned to Missoula, Montana, where Larry completed his degree. His first job with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) returned the family back to Anchorage, Alaska, where daughter Laurie was born in 1973. From there, the family moved to Ukiah, Oregon, where son Troy was born in January 1976, then to Craig, Colorado, before circling back to Glennallen, Alaska, where Larry finished his time with BLM.

In 1979, after joining the Division of State Forestry, Larry was instrumental in establishing the first area office. After three years as their fire management officer, in 1982, he transferred to the Soldotna State Forestry office where he worked for ten years (including being Smokey the Bear on occasion). Larry left State Forestry to work for Kenai National Wildlife Refuge as their fire management officer from 1993 to 1999. He took a three-year break from forestry and fire management while he and Toni owned and operated the Map Shop in Sterling. Missing the fire-related work, Larry kept busy the next two summers working operations for the Alaska Fire Service. In 2004, Larry went to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Anchorage as their “fire guy.” In 2012, Larry finally hung up his Nomex fire gear and officially retired.

Larry is survived by his beloved wife, Toni Adams, of Sterling, daughter Laurie (George and children Bradley and Brooke) Walters of Soldotna, son Troy Adams of Sterling, and sister Joyce (Norman) Staker of Franklin Furnace, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, please consider giving a donation to a Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s foundation or plant a tree in honor of a loved one.

Edgar Arthur Kupillas 1931-2020

Edgar Arthur KupillasEdgar Arthur Kupillas, 89, passed away peacefully of natural causes in the care of his children on 6th September 2020. Born 27th July 1931 in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, Edgar was the only child of Arthur and Elli Kupillas, first generation German immigrants. Edgar was inspired by the heroics of the Forest Service Fire Fighters when he learned about the Great Fire of 1910. That inspiration, combined with his love of the outdoors, led Edgar to write to the Forest Service in early 1949 to inquire about a job after graduating from high school. To his surprise he got a job offer from the Headquarter Guard in Northern Idaho.

Edgar accepted the offer and in June, directly after graduating from Greenwich High School, he rode his Harley Davidson across the country to St. Joe in Northern Idaho to start his career in the Forestry industry. He worked as a smoke chaser during the summers of 1949 and 1950, while studying at the School of Forestry at Syracuse University. He spent the summer of 1951 in the Adirondacks attending Syracuse forestry training.  In 1952 he received a promotion to Headquarter Guard when he returned to St. Joe. The three summers that Edgar spent working for the Forest Service shaped him and set him on a path that would define his life as a forester.

After graduating from Syracuse in 1953, as the Korean War escalated, Edgar enlisted in the Marines. He married his sweetheart Sally the following year. When the Korean War treaty was signed and it was clear he would not be deployed overseas,  Edgar took a job in Oregon, working initially for the BLM and then Elk Lumber Company. Edgar and Sally started their family in 1956 with the birth of their first son, Steven followed by Greg and Karin in 1959 and 1963. The family moved to Salem in 1967.

In the next chapter of his life, following his separation from Sally, he adopted children Joe and Liz when he married Sue in 1976. Edgar's work took the family back to Southern Oregon. Several years later, he retired his corporate career and began consulting on forestry projects and became politically active on policies regarding forest management.

It was during this time that he delivered the Moore Park restoration in Klamath Falls, Oregon, which he later designated as the greatest accomplishment of his career. The complex initiative balanced timber production opportunities with nature protections to maintain the beauty and health of the forest; a result that he hoped that future generations would enjoy for years to come. Following his retirement from consulting, he moved to a new ranch near Butte Falls, Oregon and in 2017 he moved north to spend his remaining years with his children. 

Edgar's parents instilled in him a love of history, nature and the outdoors that he carried throughout his life. In 2010, at 79 he shot an antelope on his final hunt with son Steve. He shared his ultimate ski trip with son Greg in 2010. And as recently as the month before his passing he enjoyed his final fishing trip with sons, Greg and Joe. He will be remembered by his children and grandchildren as a father who was present and always wanted to share his time, stories and adventures with them. Both daughters Karin and Liz have fond memories of countless journeys on horseback.

For those who knew him, Edgar was someone who led by example, modeling responsibility and commitment. He was fastidious and kept lessons from his German parents and the Marines throughout his life. You could bounce a quarter off of his military made bed, he expected three-squares a day, and he could always fit into his Marine uniform. He told a great story, he laughed easily and he loved his family deeply.

Edgar Arthur Kupillas is remembered lovingly by his friends and his children and grandchildren. A Veteran Memorial service will be held July, 2021 in Eagle Point, Oregon. Contact for more information. Donations in Edgar's name can be made to the Oregon Logging Conference Repair and Recovery Fund, supporting those affected by the recent fires in Oregon. 

Robert Curtis 1927-2020

Robert CurtisRobert (Bob) Curtis, 93, passed away peacefully in his home in Olympia, Washington, on December 27, 2020, after a lifetime of service with the US Forest Service. His career began in 1951 at the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station after earning a bachelor and master’s degree from Yale University; prior to attending Yale, he served in the US Army. He first worked on forest surveys throughout the Northeast and subsequently on silviculture and soil-site research in New York and Vermont. While at Yale he met and married Helen L. Thompson of Cedar Falls, Washington. They were married for 68 years and had three children.

Bob moved to the PNW Research Station in 1962, and completed a doctoral program at the University of Washington in 1965. He had long-term interests in forest history and forestry practices. He installed many studies to see how tree growth is affected by different spacing between trees and to learn how young trees respond when foresters leave varying amounts of overstory trees during logging as part of different silvicultural regimes. He was also interested in the total amount of tree growth when trees were harvested at different ages and wrote about the benefits of extended rotations to minimize conflicts between timber yield and environmental factors.

In addition to his work on quantifying forest growth and the impacts of treatments, Curtis contributed to the measurement of tree volume, stand productivity (site curves) and competition. Curtis’ Relative Density is widely used measure of stand density based on the relationship between tree size and the number of trees per unit area. His many years of work in the region also led him to work with a team to publish an extensive report on the research in the Douglas-fir region since the late 1880s (PNW-GTR-696). Bob received many accolades throughout his tenure with the Forest Service including: the USDA Superior Service Award in 1992; the Chief’s Retiree Volunteer Service Award in 2001; and the Society of American Foresters Golden Member Award in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Helen, daughters Anne (Olympia) and Ruth (Portland), and son Stephen (San Rafael). Remembrances may be made to The Nature Conservancy.

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