Nelson, Arnold L. (Deceased)
Arnold was born in Ironwood, Michigan, on February 11, 1907. He grew up in a large family: his parents, four brothers, and four sisters. He was raised in a rural area within easy reach by horse and buggy of the shores of Lake Superior and its pristine fish resources of lake trout and herring. His home was on a small farm not far from a spring-fed brook that supported a trout population. He lived only a short bike ride away from extensive cutover lands with lots of raspberries, abundant deer, ruffed grouse, snowshoe rabbits, and more. He remembered shooting his first ruffed grouse when he was 12 years old. After graduating from high school in 1924, he pursued his education at the University of Michigan, where he received a BS degree in biology in 1928. He taught biology and general science in the public schools of Fordson (now Dearborn), Michigan, for two and one half years. Then on February 16, 1931, he moved to Washington, D.C., for a career in the Bureau of Biological Survey (later Fish and Wildlife Service) starting out as a junior biologist with varied assignments, including studies on the food habits of birds and investigations of complaints against birds. Early on, he became involved with what was an emerging concept: multiple uses of public lands. During World War II, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s headquarters was moved to Chicago. At that time Arnold was transferred to the Patuxent Research Refuge where, in 1945, he was appointed assistant chief of the Division of Wildlife Research having broad responsibility for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s research programs in the eastern United States. Then, in 1949, when all activities at the Patuxent Research Refuge were centralized under a single leadership, he became the Refuge’s first director. The Refuge later became the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. One of the early functions of the Bureau of Biological Survey was to investigate the economic importance of birds in the control of agricultural insect pests. Since 1885, the Bureau had accumulated much information on the food habits of birds and mammals. As director of the Patuxent Research Refuge, Arnold saw the need to bring this accumulated information into print to achieve its wider use. This need was met when Arnold directed preparation of a manuscript for a comprehensive guide to wildlife food habits, under the title American Wildlife and Plants. This intensive and extensive work was done in collaboration with Alexander C. Martin, a biologist on the Refuge staff, and Herbert O. Zim, associate professor of education, University of Illinois. It was published in 1951 as a 500-page hardcover book by McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. In 1961, it was republished in an unabridged edition, by Dover Publications, Inc. It was republished in Canada by General Publishing Company Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, and in the United Kingdom by Constable and Company, Ltd., London. The book became a classic in its field. In 1959, Arnold received the Department of Interior’s Gold Medal and Distinguished Service Award “in recognition of more than 28 years of outstanding service.” In his final four years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arnold capped off his career with the government by serving as managing editor of two farreaching books on birds, Waterfowl Tomorrow, a 770-page hardcover volume, and Birds in Our Lives, a 561 page hardcover book. These works were cooperative ventures made possible by 164 authors from the United States and Canada contributing their time, talent, and expertise writing assignments for books on specific topics, for which they were well qualified by training and field experience. Both books were well received by the media and the public. The editor of Waterfowl Tomorrow was Joseph P. Linduska, formerly employed on the staff of the Patuxent Research Refuge. The well known Alfred Stefferud served as editor of Birds in Our Lives. The books were enhanced by many photographs, generously contributed by wildlife photographers from coast to coast. Waterfowl Tomorrow was distributed throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. In Canada it was available from the Queens Printer, Ottawa, Canada. A paperback edition of Birds in Our Lives was published in 1970 by Arco Publishing Co., Inc., New York. Arnold married his college sweetheart, Ruth Morris also a biologist, on December 24, 1930, when the country was in the throes of the greatest depression it ever has had. They had four children; two sons and two daughters, four grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. In 1932, Arnold was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club, and served as secretary from 1934 to 1944. He was awarded honorary membership in 1970. He has treasured his membership, and has fond memories of many outings at Plummers Island, often with Fran Uhler. He vividly recalls one trip with him. It was a warm spring day when the twinleaf was in full bloom on the Island. It was a day picked out by Fran to bury the ashes of Dr. A. K. Fisher beside a twin-flower as had been requested by A. K. It was a sad moment, but deep down it was a satisfying one, knowing that a friend was carrying out the wish of a good friend. In retirement, Arnold was active by always having a project to work on. He and his wife found the time to travel quite widely in the United States and Canada and made it a point to keep in close touch with family members. Arnold died on June 27, 2007, in Needham, Massachusetts. His wife of over 76 years died just 11 days later.