Fowler, James A. (Deceased)
Jim was born on July 15, 1916, in Skowhegan, Maine. He moved as a child to Washington, D.C., and was educated in Washington, including Central High School and the George Washington University, from which he received a BS degree in 1940 and an MA degree in 1943. While attending college he was employed during the summer as a ranger-naturalist with the National Capital Parks of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Among his duties was to give an interpretive talk on the history and natural history of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal on a mule-drawn barge, which plied the waters of the canal between Georgetown and Cabin John. After graduation from college and during World War II, he went to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Industry, Zoological Division, as a parasitologist. He also taught high school biology and general science at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. In 1947, he began his career in museums by accepting employment at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, where he was director of education. In 1957, he left Philadelphia for Michigan, where he was employed as curator of education at Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills. In 1961, he became director of education at Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, where he remained until 1982 when he retired. At Cranbrook, in addition to his primary educational responsibilities, he was elected a research associate in zoology, a position which he held in retirement. He was responsible for the Department of Herpetology and the herpetological collection and devoted two days a week to this responsibility as a volunteer. He was actively involved in herpetology since high school, and his master’s thesis was A Distributional Study of the Amphibians and Reptiles of the District of Columbia and Vicinity with Emphasis on Physiography. He authored some 40 short herpetological papers. He was a member of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (1937), the Herpetologists League, and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, as well as the Maryland Herpetological Society. His interest in amphibians and reptiles whetted his appetite for cave exploring, and he became a member of the District of Columbia Speleological Society, which amalgamated with other regional cave groups to become the National Speleological Society of which he has been a member (and later a fellow) for over 50 years. As a museum professional he has been a member of the American Association of Museums since 1942. He served on the Museum Council from 1971 to 1975 and was a regional representative from 1978 to 1980. He is a past president of the Midwest Museums Conference, from which he received a distinguished service award and honorary membership in 1981, as well as an honorary member of the Michigan Museums Association. The highlight of his museum career was as a participant in a nine-week Scandinavian Seminar in 1965, involving outdoor/folk museums in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. This seminar was sponsored by the American Association of Museums through a Fulbright grant. Other professional affiliations include the Michigan Audubon Society (life member and past president), Michigan Academy of Art, Science and Letters, Michigan Chapter Nature Conservancy (board member), Seven Ponds Nature Center (past board chairman), and Sigma Xi (Associate). Jim was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1946 and then became a non-resident member, living in Troy, Michigan. He lived his later years in a retirement home in Westland, Michigan. Jim died on September 1, 2008 at the age of 92.