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.  


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