Obituary: Frederick Greeley, professor emeritus of Wildlife Biology

By Joseph S. Larson
Special to In the Loop

Frederick Greeley, 84, of Leverett, professor emeritus of Wildlife Biology, died May 12.

Born in Winnetka, Ill., he attended Harvard College and received his B.A. in 1941 from Kenyon College in Ohio.

With the onset of World War II, he entered the military and went on to become an Army Air Force navigator in the European campaign. While training he missed the practice parachute jump, so his first and last jump came when his bomber was shot down over Belgium. He was rescued by the Belgian underground and hidden until the arrival of Allied troops.

After the war he entered the University of Wisconsin where he became closely acquainted with Aldo Leopold, founder of the profession of wildlife management. He went on to earn an M.S. in zoology on the development of an assay technique for avian pituitary glands and his Ph.D. on the relationship between stress and pituitary gland functions in ring-necked pheasants and domestic fowl.

His first postdoctoral position was a one-year study on deer nutrition for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. This was followed by four years on the staff of the Illinois Natural History Survey, researching pheasant distribution and nutrition. In 1960, he was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management (now Natural Resources Conservation). He succeeded pioneer wildlife management educator Reuben E. Trippensee who had established and, for 24 years, was the sole University faculty member in the Wildlife Management Program.

Under Trippensee, the program had offered a classic applied undergraduate wildlife management curriculum and a master’s program coupled with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit led by William G. Sheldon. With Sheldon’s encouragement, Greeley single-handedly converted the undergraduate and graduate curricula into science-based wildlife biology programs and founded a Ph.D. program – all while teaching eight different courses and advising undergraduate and master’s students. The rapid growth of the program eventually led the University to add more wildlife and fisheries faculty members, but Greeley elected to let younger faculty develop the research program by continuing to handle the administration of the undergraduate program and maintaining a major teaching and advising load. His research interests were mainly pursued through student thesis projects. In 1981, he retired from UMass to summer in Wisconsin and winter at his old colonial home in Leverett.

He was recognized as a skilled editor, including working on Sheldon’s book manuscripts. He served as chairman of the New England Section of The Wildlife Society, chairman of the regional Blackbird Control Group, and as a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, the Northeastern Bird Banding Association, the Wilson Ornithological Society, the American Ornithologists’ Union, The Wildlife Society and the American Society of Mammalogists. He put his professional expertise to practical applications as a charter member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee, a member of the town of Leverett’s Conservation Commission and by developing and administering a management plan for the 1,000-acre Wisconsin family camp property where he first developed his interest in birds.

He leaves his wife, Priscilla “Perky” Greeley, his four daughters, Holly of Whately, Lois of Sharon, Harriet Rogers of Northampton, and Lynn Greeley of Galesburg, Ill. and three grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Aldo Leopold Foundation, P.O. Box 77, Baraboo, WI 53913-0077.