William Arthur Sylvester, age 96, of Stevens Point, passed away at St. Michael’s Hospital on Thursday, August 18, 2011.
A private burial was held at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 22, 2011. A memorial service will be held on September 26, 2011, at 11 o’clock at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Stevens Point with the Reverend Howard Hintzman officiating. The family will receive guests beginning at 10 o’clock. Boston Funeral Home, Stevens Point, assisted the family with arrangements. Condolences may be offered online at bostonfuneralhome.net.
William was born 96 years ago, on July 5, 1915, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Arthur E. and Ada L. (Sizer) Sylvester. He married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Ella Dale, December 25th, 1940 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She preceded him in death on November 9, 2008. He graduated from Washington High School in Milwaukee in 1933, the University of Michigan with a degree in Forestry in 1937 and a Graduate Degree in Forestry from Yale University in 1938.
He leaves notable professional and personal legacies. On his maternal side he was a member of a Wisconsin Pioneer Family dating back to German immigrants in Ozaukee County Wisconsin. In his youth he was an Eagle Scout and enjoyed camping and outdoor activities with his family. This interest in the out-of-doors led him to continue the pursuit of forestry as did his paternal ancestors who were Royal Foresters in Pomerania and his grandfather who was a City Gardener for Wauwatosa. After his graduate work, Bill worked for the US Army Air Corps during World War II and is credited with the perfection of the wood that was used on the gliders in the Normandy invasion. He also mapped Jackson County Wisconsin in his early career with the Wisconsin DNR. He was instrumental in the planting of 23 million trees in Wisconsin. From 1946 to 1970 he was Chief Forester for Trees for Tomorrow. In his second career, he was an associate professor at the College of Natural Resources, UWSP. His most lasting contribution to the world of conservation education was the brokering of the donation of land from the Vallier family to provide for the current day Treehaven Environmental Center in Tomahawk. Subsequently, a lecture hall at Treehaven was named after him. After his retirement, he received the Golden Membership Award from the Society of American Foresters and was inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame.
He was also an avid promoter of education and spent many hours transporting his daughters to and from extra-curricular activities. He was active in the Merrill High School AFS chapter and St. Stephens Church in Merrill. He and his wife hosted four exchange students, each for a year, in their home: Mary Oku Thomas (Japan), Jouk Drieenhuizen (Holland), Oetie Sastrohoesodo (Indonesia), and Bettina Huhn (Germany). While his children were growing up in Merrill, he prepared a skating rink for the neighborhood in his backyard each winter. His garden was the envy of the neighbors. In Stevens Point, he was active in St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, his parents, and his brother, Dr. Walter Sylvester and son-in-law, Phil Schaefer. He is survived by his daughters, Dr. Carol (Dr. Herbert) Lyon, Las Cruces, NM, Jean Schaefer, Tomahawk, WI and Louise (Gary) Thompson Stevens Point, WI. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Margot Lyon (David Bolton) Grayslake, IL, Peter Lyon (Arjana Olldashi) Washington, DC, Dr. Michael Schaefer (Jill), Grafton, OH, Bethany Schaefer, Wausau, WI and Aaron Thompson, De Pere, Wi. There are five great-grandchildren: Elijah Bolton, Arden Bolton, Julia Schaefer, Amanda Schaefer and Nora Lyon.
The family wishes to thank the staff of St. Michael’s Hospital for their compassionate care during his brief stay. An extra special thank you to everyone at the Oakridge Senior Living Community for four years of exceptional living!!
The family requests memorials be made to the “UWSP Foundation – Sylvester Fund,” 2100 Main St. No. 212, Stevens Point, WI 54481, in lieu of flowers. This endowment fund supports educational programs at Treehaven Environmental Center in Tomahawk.