Harry was a special friend and I will always remember the good times we had hanging out visiting, backpacking, working with youth groups together and sharing many meals together.
Rest in piece my friend.
WVU Alumni '99 but Forest Mensuration student Spring '96 and what I do remember as being Mr. Wiant's last year of "official" teaching. I remember him walking into the classroom and really had a presence about him. We all knew his legendary status but not because he told it that way at all. I remember a very humble man for his undeniable legacy.
I am blessed to have learned from him, to what I produced in my career, to now being able to pass on Harry's wisdom onto my own students in Forest Mensuration at a AAS program. Rest in Peace ole forester, those forests I am sure are some of the tallest and finest quality trees ever to measure!
I met Harry when he was president of the Society of American Foresters. I was a grad student at the time and attending a leadership academy. We were seated at different tables and had been working on drawing what our leadership style looked like. I finished and just happened to look Harry's way. He showed me his drawing: a forester standing on a stump in the middle of everyone. We had a little chuckle about that one. I appreciated that he helped me relax a little in that moment. Later, I wound up singing Cabbage Head with him. He kept telling me to sing higher (squeakier). I didn't quite hit what he wanted so he sang both parts!
I had the honor of first using the Wiant wedge to cruise timber as a forestry student, and then much later meeting and working with Harry as colleagues at Penn State. He and Jeanne were wonderful people and powerful positive influences in our lives.
So many people touched in so many ways. Even those who disagreed with his "old-time forestry" approach respected his knowledge and grasp of the topics, and the way he worked with people.
Save a spot around the campfire for me, Harry.
So sad to hear that Dr. Harry Wiant is no more within us! Our thoughts and prayers for his eternal peace and sincere condolences for his family and friends. He was such a wonderful and helpful person. He was a great mentor and a source of inspiration for me when I was a doctoral student at Penn State! In 2014, when I used to work at Washington State University, I had a chance to visit him at his place in Seattle. We had dinner together with his friends. Then, he took me to his condo. and sang a song (composed by himself about “Life’) by playing guitar for me! Lots of wonderful memories! Rest in Peace, Harry!
Harry was our first Ibberson Chair in Forest Resources Management at Penn State's School of Forest Resources. His resume identified a national leadership in the forestry profession, trend setting research in biometrics, a continued enthusiasm for teaching, and his recent retirement from West Virginia University. We enjoyed his ensuing interview with faculty and students. Our faculty assessment of three candidates was near equal but our undergraduate students expressed a decided favor for Harry. There was no generation gap. Upon his acceptance, Harry quipped the only thing in his career he had failed was retirement.
As Chair, Harry taught Forest Inventory, Advanced Forest Biometrics, and Consulting Forestry on an annual basis. During the course of his eight-year tenure, he gathered the support of the Association of Consulting Foresters. His annual Ibberson Chair Forums provided regional and national attention to timely matters on biometrics, contemporary issues of forest ownership, and public responsibilities. He kept pace with his graduate students and their research. Everything was achieved with quality and integrity.
Harry shared his talents and love for country music. In a very real sense, this man from West Virginia became a symbol of Penn State. Harry was our man-for-all-seasons and an icon of our Ibberson Chair.
I knew him during his WVU professor years. I was a grad student in psychology but we knew each other though church. He had "a magnificent Hewlett Packard graph machine" that he let me use when a prof wanted me to make about 100 of them for my thesis research. It took up most of a table or desk. It took me about a week of evenings, but when I brought them to the prof, he was uninterested.
Harry was the jokester. He talked about always carrying a big stick to fend off the first aiders if injured in the field. He also told of a student who thought "mensuration" was "menstruation" and another who wanted "a brassiere burger."
I had no idea of his standing in Forestry until later, but he was a good friend.
Harry was a great teacher and mentor. I remember the first time I met him at WVU back in 1994. I was nervous that someone with his credentials would be difficult but he, and his wife Jeanne, were the most down to earth people you could ever hope to meet. He became my major professor and one of my dearest friends. He always had a smile and a kind word for everyone he met. We continued to exchange emails periodically until very recently. He was a devout Christian so I know he is in good hands. God Bless.
A few people enter your life and have a truly great impact. Harry Vernon Wiant, Jr. was one of those for me. I was blessed to have Harry as a professor for three courses at SFASU in Nacogdoches in the early 1970s. We rode bikes together and discussed religion at his dinning table. He invited me to accompany him to Honduras for several weeks in the summer of 1971 to work with Honduran students that were enrolled at SFASU. What an experience! It also included a week in Mexico City with he, his family, and Nancy King.
Harry transferred to West Virginia University before I graduated but was pleased that my first career after graduation was with International Paper Company. He often teased me because I had received a BS in Biology rather than Forestry but was now making an "honest" living. We stayed in touch by mail while Harry was at WVU and later Penn State. I was finally able to reconnect in person shortly after he moved to the Seattle, Washington area. I was blessed to visit him multiple times in Washington and reminisce about the past. I would visit on Thursdays when he led singing for the residents at the retirement community where he lived. It reminded me of the Tuesday lunch sing-a-longs that he, Ray Hicks, and others shared in the Forestry Building at SFASU.
Harry, or Sonny, as he preferred in later years, was a very positive influence in my life and truly a dear friend. I will greatly miss our visits but am secure in my faith that we will be reunited some day.
In forest mensuration class one day, he remarked how he saw the phrase “Culo Sucks” painted on the wall of a cave. Culo was the previous mensuration professor at WVU and reportedly was tough as nails on his students. Dr. Wiant said one day he wanted to be himself mentioned in the same way. Dr. Wiant being very tough himself in this regard. So in your honor Doc: “Wiant Sucks” You will not be forgotten. Thanks for everything you taught me over the years and the great fun playing music together.
Always looked forward to running into Harry (almost literally) on the north end of Mercer Island. I'd be on a run, usually with a conscious thought of when would I cross paths with Harry today. He was always super easy to spot with his sun eclipsing though stylish broad brimmed hat (and his signature traffic cone orange jacket on colder days) purposefully walking somewhere.
Then I'd see him, and would make sure to head him off for a quick chat. On cue, his first line would be a corny (but still funny) joke, one of hundreds he had at the ready depending on whom he came across. Next, I'd ask how he was doing and in which mission he was currently engaged, knowing that he was the unofficial mayor of Mercer Island and spent much of his time crisscrossing the island's retail landscape negotiating senior discounts with proprietors.
Though I never saw him doing this arm twisting in action, I imagined he achieved his success through a good joke or two, then persistent economic logic followed by an altruistic close. If that didn't work, he'd part with his great smile, and come back next time with a guitar and start into a song.
Though he came late in life to Mercer Island, he was a vital part of the fabric of this community over the past decade, an aspect to life here that I find so enriching and necessary (especially now). In short, he was a very generous gentleman in the most classic sense, whom I am so grateful to have known, and will miss.
I was a student of Dr. Wiant's at WVU class of '78. There are many things I remember about those classes. During one silviculture field trip we stumbled upon a car up ahead on this forest road with a yipping dog prancing around the car. As we approached, you could see the windows were a bit steamy and the blurred figures of two people inside. Weren't they surprised as 30-some forestry students walked around their sylvan hideaway?
Later in my career, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Harry and his wife Jeanne. As were walking to our table, I mentioned to Jeanne that I used to fear her husband and now he was one of my heros. She smiled and said she had heard that a lot.
Peace to you, Dr. Wiant, Harry, you made a difference.
I am 70 years old and graduated from WVU in 1973 with a BSF degree; and I'm still hard at work. Harry got a desk computer costing some $5,000.00 (as I remember), which was big money back in those days. I hung around his office quite a bit and learned how to operate it. Somewhere between that and taking courses he became much more than just a professor to me. I've had a good career, owning Tillinghast & Neely Consulting Foresters, which has been in business since 1946; and whatever success that I have had is largely because of his influence. He taught me to love forestry and to think clearly and to be a good and honest human being. In 2004 I wrote an essay for the WVSAF concerning forest management on the Monongahela National Forest. Harry sent an email saying that it was "magnificent." That, as far as I am concerned, was the highest grade a forester could receive: a "Magnificent" from Dr. Harry V. Wiant. The word "great" is thrown around a lot; but it fits him to a tee. He was a great human being, a great forester, a great mentor, a great professor and wasn't bad a guitar playing either. He will be greatly missed. R.I.P., Harry; and thank you.
I first met Dr. Wiant while I was an undergraduate forestry student at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX in 1966. I ultimately had him for Dendrology lecture and Biometrics. At the beginning of class he would almost always have some joke to tell. At the time I hated those jokes (more about that below)! His classes were always difficult for me; I had to work hard because he expected much from his students. After grad school and beginning my career in forest entomology in Arkansas and Texas, I married Nancy King who was the administrative secretary to the dean of the College of Forestry at SFASU. She and Dr. Wiant became good friends while he was at SFASU. Later in my career Nancy and I had opportunity to visit Dr. Wiant at WVU in Morgantown. Jeanne provided us with an excellent lunch that included home made bread! It wasn't until later in my life that I finally realized how much I admired Dr. Wiant and appreciated what I learned under him. Years later I told him him face to face in Morgantown how much I admired him and what I thought of his jokes when I was in his classes at SFASU! We both got a laugh out of that. After Dr. Wiant retired from Penn State, he moved to the Seattle area to be near his daughter. My wife Nancy stayed in touch with him from Texas and I feel she encouraged him as he grieved the loss of his wife and adjusted to a new home. I always enjoyed watching and listening to him play the guitar and sing, especially the "Cabbage Head" Song. Dr. Wiant, thank you for the influence you had on my life!
I did not learn about Dr. Wiant's passing until I read about it today in the January 2021 edition of the Society of American Foresters "The Forestry Source." I have tremendous respect and regard for him as a person and a forester.
I think I first met Dr. Wiant at West Virginia University in the summer of 1987. I was there for three weeks taking some classes as part of the USDA Forest Service Southern Region's Program of Advanced Studies in Silviculture. We spent quite a bit of time in the hardwood forests in the mountains of northern West Virginia, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and Dr. Wiant was one of our instructors. Dr. Wiant had a wonderful smile, but he was serious about forestry. One evening while we were there we were invited to a party (I think it was at Dr. Wiant's house) where Dr. Wiant, Dr. Ray Hicks and several others played mostly bluegrass music. The thrill of the evening for me was getting to play guitar with Dr. Wiant and the others on a couple of the songs that I knew.
I was able to attend a few SAF National Conventions over the years, and at one of those conventions Dr. Wiant and the Chordwood band played. I purchased one of their CDs at the time and it is one of my favorites, especially the song "Tall Timber."
Although I retired from my forestry career nearly two years ago, I still have on my bookshelf a publication entitled "Harry V. Wiant, Jr.: Stand Up For Forestry," which is a compilation of articles written by Dr. Wiant and published in November1996 by the Allegheny SAF. I shared many of the concerns he expressed so well about the direction the forestry profession and society was going, which I guess makes me one of those "old school" foresters although I came along a generation after Dr. Wiant.
I was pleased to be able to vote for Dr. Wiant when he ran for the office of President of the SAF, and extremely pleased when he was elected and then served in 1997. I know I'm biased, but I think he did a great job.
Dr. Wiant was a great role model, a man of integrity, an excellent forester and professor, and a devout Christian. To his family and friends I pray that you will remember the many fine qualities that made him stand out in a crowd; my heart goes out to you.
WVU Alum 1993, I had Dr. Wiant my first year at WVU as my Dendrology Professor and have many fond memories of our weekly firld trips into the forests around Morgantown wearing our hard hats being tested on every imaginable tree and had to know it's common and scientific name. I can still hear his voice calling on me when no one knew the answer for a Black Gum in the middle of winter when all the leaves were fallen saying "Cain, what is this tree" am\nd I always had his answer. Just read he had passed in the Forestry Alum Newsletter. I only had him for this one class as I was a Wildlife Management major but he was a great influence on me because the man just exhumed excellence!
After pursuing a major/minor of physics and mathematics at the University of Houston, I decided I needed a radical change. Classes had ended for the spring semester of 1969 and summer classes had not started. I had a summer job to start. I contacted Stephen F. Austin State University’s Temple College of Forestry. I ended talking to Dr. Wiant and he offered to meet with me on the weekend at his home. I drove to Nacogdoches and discussed how to utilize my previous studies in a Forestry degree. He became my advisor and the plan was I would attend SFA for the fall 1969 and spring 1970 semesters and then 1st summer camp 1970. The fall of 1970 and spring of 1971 would be spent at Lamar University to get an “option” (the area of emphasis for Forestry majors) in Engineering. The engineering option hadn’t been officially approved, but it would be. I would be the first to receive the Forestry degree with an Engineering option.
In April or May 1971, as I was finishing at Lamar, I called Dr. Wiant to let him know I had completed my studies there and would be returning to SFA in September. I was scheduled to graduate in December of that year. Dr. Wiant said, “Well, the state has decided to add Forestry to Texas A&M and since they already have an engineering program there, the partnership program at Lamar has been denied.” I asked, as calmly as I could, “What am I going to do? What’s going to happen to me?” Very confidently and assuredly he said, “Come back to SFA in September, finish your courses as planned and you will graduate with a Forestry degree with a Forest Management option.” I was anxious that I would “fall through the cracks”, but when I returned to SFA in September, I found everything as he said it would be.
I had been fortunate to have had Dr. Wiant as my advisor; he had encouraged me to pursue a forestry degree and ultimately allowed me to graduate as planned. He did what he said he would do. I have always had the utmost respect for him.
I met Harry at the same leadership academy that Tammy Cushing mentions here. I was the Chair Elect of the South Dakota Society of American Foresters at the time. SAF was struggling with identity, who we are and what we represent as foresters - there was much discussion about this! I was so impressed with how Harry was unwavering in his principles. A year later we invited Harry to the South Dakota SAF Annual meeting to be our keynote speaker and he accepted without hesitation. A couple of days before the meeting was to take place I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Needless to say, my head was swimming with my situation and the meeting approaching. When I picked up Harry at the airport I did not tell him about the cancer diagnosis but somehow he intuitively knew that something was wrong. Of course it came out and he promised to pray for me. Harry stayed over in the Black Hills area for a couple of days so we got together for breakfast and a unique treat of a hike to the top of the heads of Mt. Rushmore! My wife worked at the Memorial and arranged the trip reserved for special visitors. I will never forget Harry Wiant crawling across the top of George Washington's head to peak over at Lincolns face and gaze on the view of the Black Hills. We kept in touch for a number of years by email and making sure we saw each other at SAF National Conventions. He, and Jeanne, always wanted to know how I was doing and to let me know that I was in their prayers. Thank you Harry!