Pat’s Chat (January 20)

Many of you have told me how much you enjoyed our Burnsville High School reunions when Sonny was the master of ceremonies. I don’t know who wrote this article or for what purpose, but I hope you will enjoy it and the picture of him when he was young. (The picture was included in the article.) Sonny died October 31, 2020, a few days before his birthday, November 4. The tragedy to me and my sister, Mary Ann Bucklew, is that our brother Sammy died just a few days later on December 15, 2020. We have no other siblings. Enjoy your family while you can. I am grateful for the many years we had them in our lives. Here is the article as I found it, and the picture:

Harry Wiant

Harry was from the East Coast and taught at West Virginia for several years.  Even though he has a PhD from Yale in ecology, I have always thought well of Harry. In the last few years, after the death of his wife, he moved to Seattle to be nearer to his daughter.  Much of his work is of a very practical nature, and quite a bit of it concerns my own interest in Variable Plot Sampling and field inventory. I am pretty sure that Harry was a good professor, although I never have seen him in that role. I remember him as a model of professional behavior. He is consistently polite, interested in people, accepting of them, and never gives the idea that he is impressed with himself (and there are others in the business, I must say, who often feel very special about themselves).  One incident sticks in my mind about Harry. 

We were at a meeting, and since you cannot always tell what people will discuss based on their talk titles, two previous speakers discussed the topic that Harry was to cover. He stepped to the podium and said “You know, the previous two speakers adequately covered what I think should be said about this topic, and so I think I will surrender my time to the next speaker – thank you”, and stepped down. I have never forgotten that example. 

I do not remember the other two speakers (who did not impress me) and cannot even remember the actual topic that Harry did not discuss. That example of humility and professional courtesy deeply impressed me, and I have always enjoyed Harry’s company.

A few years after he started attending the Western Mensuration meetings in the Northwest, he liked the format and attitude so well that he restarted the regional North-Eastern Mensuration group, (NEMO) which now meets regularly.

When I think of Harry, I am reminded of this comment from the movie “Harvey,” by the character Elwood P. Dowd - played by Jimmy Stewart:

Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” - she always called me Elwood - “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh-so-smart or oh-so-pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart.

I recommend pleasant.  You may quote me.



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