Freeman Rowe (9/28/1930 – 10/7/2020)

I moved to the Eugene area in late 1982, a refugee from the urban-blight madness of Southern California. I quickly became enthralled with the natural beauty and bounty of the Pacific Northwest and within a few years had taken Freeman Rowe’s classes on mushrooms (twice) and field botany at Lane Community College.

Oh sure, lots of us have. The kicker for me was that, long story short, Freeman was directly responsible for changing the course of my life.

Besides fueling my enthusiasm for the natural world with his own infectious enthusiasm as well as a well-honed ability for making just about anything he taught interesting and easy to understand, at the end of the field botany class in ’87, Freeman steered me into what became a seasonal volunteer position on a northern spotted owl monitoring crew.

As a professional mechanic who was taking these classes solely for personal enrichment, I didn’t think there was any way I would even be considered for, let alone accepted into, the program. I gave it a shot, and I was. I expected to be tasked with cleaning the office or some such while the real crew were out doing actual field work. But on my very first day on the job, I held a spotted owl in my hands.

My life hasn’t been the same since. A transition from turning wrenches to wandering in the woods looking at, and for, plants and animals, I completed a degree in wildlife science and am a wildlife field biologist, bringing along a rather well-honed knack for repairing or improving just about any equipment we use.

Thank you, Freeman.

Richard Leach