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In Memoriam

Posted: October 7, 2017

In Memoriam - Summer/Fall 2017, Issue No. 101
  • Alex Kirnak, 1937 – died in August 2015
  • Carl A. Muller, 1938 – died September 20, 2015
  • C. Dana Chalfant, 1941 – died March 8, 2017
  • Richard C. Cook, 1948 – died August 3, 2016
  • Robert H. Rumpf, 1949 – died April 9, 2017
  • Walter F. Gabel, 1950 – died May 11, 2016
  • J. Theodore Jensen, 1950 – died August 7, 2016
  • Thomas E. Peters, 1954 – died October 19, 2016
  • Keith D. Horn, 1955 – died August 11, 2016
  • Paul S. Debald, 1957 – died November 28, 2015
  • David L. Posca, 1957 – died November 2, 2015
  • Vincent B. Balok, 1958 – died November 25, 2015
  • Robert M. Schaeffer, 1958 – died September 23, 2017
  • Richard A. Werner, 1958 – died July 8, 2017
  • Wayne R. Grube, 1959 – died November 22, 2016
  • Ronald J. Dinus, 1961 – died December 1, 2015
  • James E. Pflieger, 1961 – died December 25, 2015
  • Robert J. Bartholomew, 1963 – died December 10, 2015
Alex W. Kirnak, 1937, of Beaverton, OR, died in early August 2015, about 10 weeks shy of his 99th birthday. Kirnak was honored as one of our Forest Resources Outstanding Alumni in 2006.

ChalfantC. Dana Chalfant, 1941, of Gibsonia, PA, died March 8, 2017. He was a WWII veteran, serving in the Navy from 1942 to 1946 as a captain of a patrol cruiser. Lt. Commander Chalfant received the Bronze Star medal for action at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Following his service in the Navy, he joined his father’s hydraulic machinery business, which he managed for 60 years. He served six years as commissioner with the PA Game Commission, and was a life member of the Penn State Alumni Association.

CookRichard C. Cook, 1948, of Stuart, FL, died on August 3, 2016. Cook served with the U.S. Army Air Corps 451st Bomb Group in Italy during WWII. After completing the forestry degree, Cook did additional graduate work at Syracuse University and Rutgers University where he was acting chairman of the Forestry Department. He was an executive with Johnson and Johnson for 20 years, and then a director with the National Druggists’ Association.


RumpfRobert H. Rumpf, 1949, of Carlisle, PA, died April 9, 2017. From PA Forestry Association newsletter, May 2017: After earning a B.S. in Forestry in 1949, Rumpf began his career with the PA Dept. of Forests and Waters, filling several assignments between 1949 and 1953, including a tour in the U.S. Army.
     After earning a Master of Forestry degree in Forest Economics at Duke University in 1954, he joined The Glatfelter Pulp Wood Company in Virginia. In 1961, Rumpf returned to PA to open a district office in Carlisle. While there, he expanded the woodland acquisition he expanded the woodland acquisition program and installed scientific forest management on company lands. He also encouraged private landowners to recognize the value of management and harvesting on their forestlands. He served as Area Forester, District Manager, Administrative Assistant, and Vice President and General Manager at the Spring Grove headquarters of the Company. He retired in 1993 with 39 years of service.
     Rumpf's service to the profession includes serving as President and Director of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association (PFA), and Chair of PFA’s Policy Committee and Forest Industry Committee; he was Chairman of the Pennsylvania Tree Farm Committee, Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Communications Committee of the American Forest Institute, Chairman of the Forest Resource Committee of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and a member of the National Board of the American Pulpwood Association.
     Rumpf was a member of the Penn State’s School of Forest Resources (SFR) Advisory Board (1991-1995), a member of the SFR Goddard Chair Committee (1992-2000), and a member of the Penn State Forest Issues Group. He also served on the SFR Alumni Group Board of directors for two three-year terms from 1995 to 2000. He was instrumental in establishing the Distinguished Lecture Series in the School in 1993.
     Rumpf’s awards include the Joseph T. Rothrock Conservationist of the Year Award in 1996 from the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, the 1993 Maryland Governor's Proclamation for leadership in Maryland Forestry, election as Fellow in the Society of American Foresters in 1993, and SFR Outstanding Alumnus in 2002.

Gabel_and_MannoWalter F. Gabel, 1950, of Dover, Delaware, died on May 11, 2016. He was a WWII veteran, serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre, 1944 to 1946. After graduating in 1950 with a degree in Forestry, he served 35 years in the Delaware Forestry Department, becoming State Forester in 1977. He often enacted the educational role of Smokey Bear in costumed-character visits to classrooms and Scout troops.
     Gabel and his son William visited Penn State in June 2011. Gabel is shown here with Ellen Manno, executive director of the Forest Resources Alumni Group.

JensenJ. Theodore “Ted” Jensen, 1950, of Jenkintown, PA, died August 7, 2016. During WWII, Jensen enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17. He was called to active duty after graduation from Germantown Academy in 1943, and served in the Pacific Theater. He was honorably discharged, but remained in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1951. Following military service, Jensen completed the B.S. in Forestry at Penn State in 1950. He was hired as a general foreman in the chemical spray division of the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. before being recalled to active duty by the Marines during the Korean War. He was discharged a second time in 1951 and worked in sales for the United States Plywood Corp., and as a field engineer and project manager for R.G. Werden and Associates in Jenkintown, and then in a position in the sales and servicing of fire trucks with the Campbell Supply Co. in New Jersey. He service to Jenkintown included work as a volunteer fireman, as borough forest chief and fire marshal, and four 4-year terms as mayor. He served on the Forest Resources Alumni Group board of directors for two three-year terms, spring 2002 through spring 2008, and as vice president for two years, spring 2003 through spring 2005.

PetersThomas E. Peters, 1954, of Port Ludlow, WA, died October 19, 2016. After completing the forestry degree in 1954, Ludlow became a pilot in the U.S. Air Force (1955-58). In 1959 he earned an M.S. in Wood Technology from the University of Washington. His career in wood products (1959-1995) spanned several companies: Simpson Timber Co. in Shelton, WA; Pope 7 Talbot in Oakridge, OR; Morrison Knudsen in Boise, ID; and Coe Manufacturing in Tigard, OR. During his career he was awarded 11 patents relating to the production of wood fiberboard.

HornKeith D. Horn, 1955, of Kane, PA, died August 11, 2016.  He received a full scholarship to play football at Penn State where he lettered three out of his four years. Keith stayed on as the freshman coach and had the opportunity to work with Coach Paterno for a year after which he completed a two-year tour of Europe in the Air Force as a football coach/player, nearly changing his professional direction to coaching football.
     He was the owner of Keith Horn, Inc., and the first consulting forester in the state to receive certification from the Forest Stewardship Council. In 2003, the Society of American Foresters recognized him with its Presidential Field Forester Award. He trained and mentored dozens of young foresters in the art of the Allegheny silviculture. Horn was also an artist of forestry. He painted and sketched the woods that he worked in and shared this artwork with colleagues and clients. He was an initial founder of the Kane Shade Tree Commission.
     Horn helped create a forestry scholarship at Penn State, was an active member in the Letterman's Club, and a contributor to Penn State's athletics. He was honored as a Forest Resources Outstanding Alumnus in 2009.

PaxtonWilliam C. Paxton, 1957, of Latrobe, PA, died April 22, 2016. At Penn State he was on the gymnastics team. In 1956 he came in sixth in the NCAA, and was undefeated in dual meets as a Tumbler. After completing the Forestry degree he attended Officers Candidate School in Newport, R.I. and became a Communications Officer in the Navy, attaining the rank of Lieutenant JG. He was stationed out of San Diego serving on the USS Kearsarge in the South Pacific. He was honorably discharged from the Naval Reserves in 1960.
     He returned to Penn State and became a Registered Landscape Architect in 1968. His career included working for the U.S. Forest Service in Missoula, MT;  the state of Pennsylvania as a Nursery Inspector, and also working for the Westmoreland County Department of Parks and Recreation where he was instrumental in designing and supervising the handicapped accessible fishing decks and walkways at Twin Lakes Park. He became a self-employed Landscape Architect and Forester and was on the faculty at Westmoreland County Community College in the Horticulture Department. He had also taught classes at St. Vincent College and Chatham University. He was a charter member of the Botanical Society of Westmoreland County joining in 1949 and serving as an officer for over 20 years. He was also a member and past chair of the Herb Society of America.
     He was the father of Laurel Rush (AGED 1996, and father-in-law of Dale Rush, FORSC 1995).

David L. Posca, 1957, of Martinsburg, PA, died November 2, 2015. Posca retired as a supervisor in the fine paper division of Westvaco, with over 50 years of service.  He then was self-employed as a consultant in the timber industry. He was a member of the National Guard from 1957 to 1970.

Vincent Buckley “Buck” Balok, 1958. U.S. Army veteran and Director of Energy for the state of Nebraska died November 15, 2015.

SchaefferRobert M. "Bob" Schaeffer, 1958, of Kittanning, PA, died September 23, 2017. After graduating from college, he was owner and operator of Valray Nurseries, Inc. until he retired in 2005.
WernerRichard “Skeeter” Werner, 1958, of Corvallis, Oregon, died July 8, 2017. He earned a B.S. degree in Forestry in 1958 and a B.S. in Zoology and Entomology in 1960, both at Penn State. He went on to earn an M.S. in secondary education from Kutztown State University in 1961, an M.S. in Entomology/Insect Physiology from the University of Maryland in 1966, and a Ph.D. in Entomology/Insect Toxicology from North Carolina State in 1971.
     He began his research career at the Alaska Forest Research Institute in Juneau, Alaska, and worked in Fairbanks, Alaska, for 23 of the 37 years that he spent with the USDA Forest Service. His professional positions with the USFS ranged from forester to supervisory research entomologist, to project/team leader.
     Among the honors he has received are a Certificate of Merit in 1989 for research following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, AK; the USDA National New Perspectives Award in 1993; a Centennial Fellows Award in 2004 from Penn State Mont Alto for scientific contributions to the field of forestry; and for his lifetime accomplishments, he was recognized with the Founders Award from the Western Forest Insect Work Conference at its 2012 annual meeting in British Columbia, Canada. In 2014 he was honored as an Outstanding Alumnus by Penn State’s Forest Resources Alumni Group.

Wayne R. Grube, 1959, of Hershey, PA, died November 22, 2016. He retired from the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service in 1993 and worked additional years for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in Farmland Preservation.

Ronald J. Dinus, 1961, of Bellingham, Washington, died December 1, 2015. After earning the B.S. in forestry at Penn State, he earned an M.S. in Forest Science at the University of Washington in 1963 and a Ph.D. in Forest Genetics at Oregon State University in 1968. His achievements included research in forest genetics and biotechnology, cell and tissue culture, physiology of wood formation, and wood, fiber, and pulping properties.

PfliegerJames E. Pflieger, 1961, of York, PA, died December 25, 2015. After graduate, he attended Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, and was commissioned into the U.S. Navy and served until 1965. He remained in the Navy Reserve and retired with the rank of Commander. He was employed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry and retired in 1999 after 39 years of service.

BartholomewRobert J. Bartholomew, 1963, of Wickenburg, AZ, died December 10, 2015. He worked with the U.S. Forest Service for 30 years on the Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg, OR; the Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR;  the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Stevenson, WA; and the Siuslaw National Forest, Waldport and Corvallis, OR, retiring in 1993.