Ralph E. Heilig

B.S. Forestry, 1958

Ralph E. Heilig completed high school in 1951 and entered the U.S. Navy, serving in a photoreconnaissance squadron from 1952 to 1953. He then worked as a merchant seaman with Sun Oil Company for nearly two years before enrolling in the forestry program at Penn State Mont Alto in fall 1954.

During his Penn State years, Heilig served on the Mont Alto student government, the Sylvan staff, and the Forestry Ball Committee, and he was a member of the Forestry Society and the Society of American Foresters. He worked as a dormitory counselor and also gained professional work experience with the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters and School of Forestry.

Upon graduation in 1958, Heilig was hired by the PA Bureau of Forestry, where he embarked on a long and successful career including positions as: Forester, Elk State Forest District, Emporium 1958-1961; Forester II, Delaware State Forest District, Stroudsburg 1961-1965; Assistant District Forester, Buchanan State Forest District 1965-1980; and District Forester, Rothrock State Forest District, Huntingdon 1980-1999.

During his 41 years with the bureau, Heilig served on numerous DCNR committees and various community planning efforts. During his 19 years as district forester, his district developed close working ties with Penn State relative to the School’s management of the Stone Valley Forest, the organization of student fire crews, and student summer employment.

In 2008, Heilig was honored by the Society of American Foresters (SAF) for 50-years of continuous membership and support. During his career he was a charter member and elected chairman to three separate SAF Chapters: Pinchot, Keystone, and Rothrock. He is a life member of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association and the Penn State Alumni Association.

Heilig was also a member of the Rotary International, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (1983-1999), served as president (1990-1991), and was the recipient of the organization’s Paul Harris Fellow Award (1992).

Heilig continued his early ties to the U.S. Navy with service to the Navy League of the United States, Central Pennsylvania Chapter, including the office of president in 1998. He has maintained his focus with the U.S Navy Academy Admissions Staff (1979 to present).

Heilig served as a leader in the successful nominations and contributions toward Founder’s Trees at the Penn State Mont Alto Arboretum in honor of Rex Melton, professor emeritus, School of Forest Resources, and of Harold Jarrett, instructor emeritus of mathematics, Mont Alto. Heilig also serves on the Penn State Mont Alto Capital Campaign Committee.

Heilig has helped with reunions of the School of Forest Resources Class of 1958 in 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008. He served as class representative for the School of Forest Resources Centennial Celebration in 2007 and helped to bring forth the largest graduating class at that event. For the class’ 50th reunion in 2008, he organized a companion event at the Mont Alto campus, and nearly half of the graduating class attended. Heilig also compiled biosketches of the members of the Class of 1958. In 2008 he was elected to the School of Forest Resources Alumni Group board of directors.

April 2009