Walter R. "Dick" Rossman

B.S. Forestry, 1950

W. R. "Dick" Rossman served in the U.S. Army Air Force during 1944-46. He earned a B.S. in Forestry in 1950 and began his 38-year career as a utility forester with the Potomac Edison Company in Maryland. In 1956 he took a position as forest manager for the Pennsylvania Electric Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where he worked until his retirement in 1988. He managed about 10,000 acres of forest land, supervised Penelec’s forestry staff, pioneered a replacement tree planting program, and administered a 25-year research project studying pollution effects on trees.

Rossman promoted the “right tree-right place” concept for years before other utility companies adopted it in many parts of the United States. The concept led to the founding of the Municipal Tree Restoration Program with Penn State and the Bureau of Forestry, and later Pennsylvania's involvement in the America the Beautiful Program of the U.S. Forest Service. Rossman helped establish the Line Clearance and Forestry Committee of the Pennsylvania Electric Association and served as its first chair. He developed the first erosion and sediment control manual for line construction, which was adopted for use by utilities in Pennsylvania.

Rossman had an active role in the forestry profession, serving as chair of the SAF Western Gateway Chapter, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation District Directors, president of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, and cofounder and chair of Stony Creek/Conemaugh River Improvement Program. He contributed to the State Conservation Commission, Pennsylvania Hardwoods Council, and Penn State Agriculture Advisory Council. Since 1997 he has been president of Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, and vice-chair of Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers.

Rossman’s efforts have been acknowledged by way of the Samuel S. Cobb/Bureau of Forestry Award in 1988, Pennsylvania Forestry Association Rothrock Conservationist of the Year in 1994, certificates of recognition by Pennsylvania State Conservation Committee and by Southern Alleghenies RC&D Area in 1995, Cambria County Conservation District Director Service Award 1973-95, Pennsylvania Conservation Hall of Fame in 1996, and election as Fellow in the Society of American Foresters in 2004.

Rossman has been active in the South Ebensburg United Church of Christ. His wife of 54 years describes him as quiet, yet committed, willing to lead, having a genuine love for our country, and desiring to build our forest and natural resources for future generations.

April 2004