Harold Heady, a professor emeritus of forestry in the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, known for his sense of humor and unconventional teaching style, died April 28 in La Grande, Ore. He was 95.
Born on March 29, 1916, in Buhl, Idaho, Heady was orphaned at the age of 12, though he still managed to put himself through high school by working at a farm to support himself financially.
In 1938, Heady earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho in forestry and range management. In pursuit of a higher education, he went on to receive his Ph.D. in 1949 from the University of Nebraska.
Heady had taught at Montana State University and Texas A&M University before becoming a part of the UC Berkeley faculty from 1951 to 1984 to carry out quantitative research. In recognition of the work he did while on campus, Heady received the Berkeley Citation award in 1991 for his significant contributions in his field.
“Aside from being hard-working and creative, he was a reasonable risk taker in his professional and academic career,” said James Bartolome, one of Heady’s former students and a campus professor of rangeland ecology and management. “He gave up a tenure position at Texas A&M to take up an assistant position at Berkeley.”
Among his many contributions, Heady became the treasurer and later the president of the Society for Range Management — which he helped found — in 1980. He also held the position of associate dean of student affairs for the College of Natural Resources.
“He was quite an unusual person,” Bartolome said. “He was classically trained in botany, making him quite unlike others because of his broad knowledge on how to identify plants.”
Heady was the author of over 100 publications, for which he received two Fulbright Scholarships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His industrious nature contributed to his success in academic positions, as he went on to live in Africa, Australia and Saudi Arabia to conduct research.
Recalling his experience with Heady, his son Kent Heady said Heady’s field work in Africa focused on the coexistence of wildlife with agriculture and that his father was “a big conservationist.”
Heady carried out extensive research for his papers, making it easier for current students — looking to address specific problems or projects — to find the hypothesis to their research question in his work, according to Bartolome. Four of his former students even went on to become deans in their respective fields.
“Heady made sure his students went out to the field to see vegetation, as compared to staying in the laboratory,” Bartolome said. “A lot of it came from the fact that he grew up on a ranch in southern Idaho.”
Even after retiring, Heady stayed in contact with his students and colleagues. He was living in La Grande in a retirement home and was active and in good health at the time of his death, according to Kent Heady.
“He was a tough taskmaster with a very dry sense of humor that made him fun to be around,” Bartolome said. “Everyone who knew him will miss him.”
Heady is survived by his son Kent Heady, his daughter Carol DeMaria, his wife Celia, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The family plans on holding a ceremony in his memory this summer.