Erickson, Ray C. (Deceased)
Ray was born on January 30, 1918, in St. Peter, Minnesota, to parents Isaac and Martha Erickson. He had two sisters and three brothers. He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and received an AB degree in biology in 1941. As an undergraduate he interrupted his studies at Gustavus in 1939 and 1940 to serve in Washington, D.C., in the Biological Survey as a collaborator with the Alabama Polytechnic Unit on food habits analysis. Following graduation, he resumed the collaborator assignment at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center as a biologist on the Patuxent staff studying raptor stomach contents. In September 1941, he enrolled in graduate studies at Iowa State University, Ames, in wildlife management while employed as a technician identifying stomach contents of red foxes for the Iowa Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit. His thesis research was a study of breeding habits of the canvasback duck in southeastern Oregon, and he received the MS degree in the fall of 1942. Ray’s graduate studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he served most of his tour of duty in the southwest Pacific in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a boat division deck officer for amphibious landing craft from April 1943 through January 1946. Following his release from active duty in 1946, he returned to Iowa State University to continue graduate studies through April 1948, involving the life history and ecology of the canvasback, and he was awarded a PhD degree in zoology. He immediately returned to Malheur Refuge as a wildlife management biologist, where he carried out wildlife inventories, stock grazing-waterfowl nesting relationships studies, and other duties of his assignment. In 1953, he married Helen (Jo) Haworth, and they had three children: Joanne, David, and Thomas. Jo passed away on November 17, 1996. In 1955, he moved to Falls Church, Virginia, to head habitat management on 9 to 11 federal refuges. In 1957, he transferred to the Division of Wildlife Research as research staff specialist of wetland ecology. It was at that time he became concerned with the serious plight of the whooping crane and other declining species, and devised a program of research on propagation designed to identify their needs and to determine corrective measures for their recovery through research and more effective management. That program was described in his paper entitled A Federal Research Program for Endangered Wildlife, which was published in the transactions of the Thirty-third North American Wildlife Conference in 1968. For designing and later heading this program, he was awarded the U.S. Department of Interior’s Distinguished Service Award. Ray was a charter member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Committee that developed the so-called “red book” entitled Rare and Endangered Wildlife of the United States. For his work with endangered species he was awarded the National Wildlife Federation’s Special Conservation Award in 1975, the Zoological Society of San Diego’s Wildlife Conservation Award in 1979, the Whooping Crane Conservation Association’s Award in 1980, and Gustavus Adolphus College Distinguished Alumni Award in 1976. He wrote over 35 scientific and semi‑popular articles and was a member of numerous professional organizations. Ray retired from his post as assistant director, Patuxent, in charge of the Endangered Wildlife Research Program in January 1980 after 35 years of federal service. He continued his interests in nature conservation as a member of the Governor’s Oregon Natural Heritage Advisory Council. Ray was admitted into Who’s Who in America in 2000. In 2001, he married Grace Hayes and enjoys traveling and nature interests in the northwestern United States . Ray was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1956, was the secretary for several years in the 1960s, and was president from 1967 to 1970. After a 20-year apprenticeship of baking shad and oysters at the spit on Plummers Island under Fran Uhler’s tutelage, he assumed these responsibilities about 1970 and continued until his retirement and departure from the Washington, D.C., area in 1980.