Frederick Emerson Jr.

Obituary of Frederick Emerson Jr.

Frederick B. Emerson, Jr., better known as Fred, was born in Wellsville, NY in 1935 and died in Solvang CA at 87 on June 30, 2023 from kidney cancer and heart failure. Like his father, he fondly remembered growing up in their small town. He was introduced to birding and natural history as a teenager by a friend’s mother, who taught high school science.

After graduation from Wellsville High School, he majored in Biology at Alfred University. He received a Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University in 1961 before a post-doctoral year in Marine Science at the University of Miami. His first career was Wildlife Biologist for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Forestry Division. He advised landowners in Tennessee plus six other Southeastern states where watersheds fed into the Tennessee River and also wrote the wildlife management plan for Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. During Summer 1967 he returned to TVA to write Tennessee Valley Wildlife-An Outlook for Year 2000 and In 2000 was pleased to find his predictions had been quite accurate. He spent 1965-66 as an Assistant Professor in Forestry at the University of Tennessee. .He received the Tennessee Wildlife Conservation Award from the Tennessee Conservation League in 1968.

His second career, Medicine, began at Vanderbilt University where he earned his M.D. in 1970 then moved to the University of Colorado for his internal medicine residency. He chose to work as an emergency care physician at Denver General Hospital and served on the UC faculty. In Santa Barbara, he practiced Emergency Medicine at Goleta Valley Hospital and provided urgent care/internal medicine at the UCSB Student Health Center.

His third career utilized his biology/ecology background with a focus on Santa Barbara County’s natural history. After docent training at both the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, he taught Birding/Natural History for the Museum for 25 years. Also, he offered natural history field trips through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. He added field trips and birding classes for the Wilding Museum, located in Solvang, after moving there in 2000. His wife, Nancy, and he received the Wildling’s Wilderness Spirit Award in 2008.

The UCSB Sedgwick Reserve was important to Fred beginning in the late 1990s. He served as a docent and hike leader while providing ecological and natural history training for docents. With fellow birder and friend, Fred Machetanz, he started a weekly Sedgwick Reserve bird census in 2008, now linked to ebird.

Fred’s other interests included tennis, eclectic musical genres with years of choral singing, linguistics, hiking and travel that included natural history. His most special travel experience was visiting the Village of Selborne, England, where Gilbert White, an 18th century pioneering British naturalist and writer, spent most of his life.

At heart Fred was a person who loved to learn and teach. He was known for using humor to help students remember important ideas and to put patients at ease. Family and friends enjoyed his humor, too, which was always kind. His humor was still evident as recently as a Father’s Day family weekend in June.

Fred is survived by his wife, with whom he shared a joyful and fulfilling 65-year marriage after meeting at Cornell University. They have three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild: Robert (Kerstin-deceased), Mark (Karen) and their four children (Nicole and Casey Russell and daughter, Lila, Danny and Alexandra Emerson, Haley Emerson and Michael Kostalnick, Kevin Emerson) and Molly Pyott (David) and her two children (Matthew and Michael Ingraham). His parents, Fred and Myrtle Emerson and his brother, Roderick, predeceased him.

The family very much appreciated the compassionate, skilled attention provided by the staff of Atterdag Village’s Care Center and Clinical Services, Complete Care at Home and Visiting Nurse Association Hospice.

A Celebration of Fred’s life will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2023, 10 a.m. at Bethania Lutheran Church, 601 Atterdag Road, Solvang. It will include brunch and sharing of memories. Memorial gifts may be sent to Bethania Preschool and After School Care, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, UCSB Sedgwick Reserve and the Wildling Museum.

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