Bryan Adams died comfortably surrounded by family on June 30, 2017.   He spent most of his childhood in South Texas where he would return as an adult.   He passed away quickly of pneumonia at the age of 75.   He is survived by two wives, six grandchildren and generations of students.   Bryan lived a life of infectious curiosity.   He was the consummate Renaissance Man, able to take on any challenge with intelligence and insight.   During his career, he taught high school biology at Brazoswood High School, served as Director of The Brazosport Nature Center & Planetarium, and as Environmental Education Specialist for The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.   Following that, he embraced his next challenge, working to save the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle.   In the two seasons he devoted to this cause and with the work of the whole team, the number of nests recovered increased from 209 to an all-time high of 350 and counting.

Published on the Freeport-Lakewood Funeral Home website on June 30, 2017.

Although Bryan was not a member of the Cradle of Texas Chapter, he spoke at many of our meetings, and he recruited numerous chapter members to assist with the Discovery Environmental Education Program, based at the refuge.

    •   A tribute to Bryan Adams.
    •   Memorial Service for Bryan Adams.


Jean Adair Audas, age 66, died at her home in Jones Creek on Thursday, February 5, 2009.   Jean was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Lynnman and Mary Vester.   After moving to Texas in the 1960s, Jean graduated from South Houston High School and Texas Woman's University (Bachelor of Science in Education).   She later attended the University of Houston, Clear Lake, and received a Master of Education.   Jean taught elementary school for more than 35 years for Brazosport Independent School District at Jane Long Elementary and Stephen F. Austin Elementary.   A devoted teacher, Jean not only saw to the educational needs of her students, but also was known to provide clothing and supplies to her students in need.   Jean was an avid naturalist, loved bird-watching and was a Master Gardener.   Cooking, quilting, sewing, antiques, decorating, and crafting also were hobbies she enjoyed.

Published in The Facts, February 6, 2009


Laura Brandes, Cradle of Texas Chapter Member, passed away Tuesday October 16, 2012 after a long illness.   Laura was very active in our chapter until her health forced her to the sidelines.   Her most recent contributions to the chapter were fulfilling the role of Training Director.

In accordance with Laura's wishes, no services are planned.   In keeping with her long love of the ocean and concern over threats to its life and ecosystems, Laura requested that her remains be cremated and her cremains returned to one of her favorite places, Monterey Bay in California.

People wishing to make memorials in Laura's name may do so to Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society.   Alternatively, donations to Gulf Coast Bird Observatory or any cause protecting and supporting Nature would honor her life.

Unpublished message by a Cradle of Texas Chapter member, October 18, 2012.


Ellis was born on March 13, 1941 and passed away on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.  Ellis was a resident of Lake Jackson, Texas at the time of passing.  He graduated from Audubon High School and attended Gettysburg College and graduated from the University of Houston, magnum cum laude, with a degree in Marketing.  He served in the Marine reserves for six years.  His career in retail spanned over 40 years.

Ellis loved the outdoors and photographing nature, especially birds.  He was a member of the Cradle of Texas Master Naturalist Chapter, Friends of the Brazoria Refuges, and Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.

Published on the Freeport-Lakewood Funeral Homes website in June 2019.

Ellis was a member of the class of 2004, and was an active participant in the activites of the chapter.  He regularly attended state meetings with his wife Barbara.  He accrued more than 2200 volunteer service hours, and was awarded a 1000-hour service pin in November 2007.


Gardner Leon Campbell passed in April 2016.   He was born Richwood, West Virginia and in high school proved to be a gifted student especially in mathematics.   After graduation, Gardner attended University of West Virginia and West Virginia Institute of Technology, School of Engineering, earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Campbell was employed by The Dow Chemical Company's Dow Texas Operations for many years, holding positions as Production Engineer, Project Manager, Design and Capital Project Engineer.   After 32 years of service at The Dow Chemical Company, Gardner retired in 1997.

Published in The Facts in April 2016 with additional information provided by Chapter Members.

Campbell was a founding member of the Texas Master Naturalist Cradle of Texas Chapter, and certified as a Texas Master Naturalist as a member of the Class of 2002.   He was active in chapter volunteer activities up to 2009 having accrued 1389 hours of volunteer time.   Gardner helped construct the Bobcat Woods trail at SBNWR and was part of the team to establish trails at Hudson Woods Unit.   He participated in a number of species surveys of local properties including the Halls Bayou and Betty Brown units.   He helped conduct wildlife surveys at the Levi Jordan and Varner Hogg Plantation State Historic Sites.

Campbell was inducted as Member Emeritus at the general meeting on May 8, 2013.


James Albert "Al" Clarke, 85, formerly of Lake Jackson, passed away Saturday, November 27, 2010, in Sugar Land, Texas.   Born to Ira D. and Betty Schragenhein Clarke, in Washington, DC, Al grew up in Cottage City, Maryland and Abbington, Pennsylvania.   Al received a degree in chemical engineering from Drexel Institute, and then earned a Masters Degree from Penn. He took a break from college to serve in the Navy from 1944-46.   While at Drexel, Al met Beverley Brooks, and they were married in 1951.   They immediately moved to Lake Jackson, Texas, where he started his 35 year career with Dow Chemical.   Al's primary focus at Dow was resins research, and he achieved the level of Associate Scientist.

One of Al's great passions in life was music.   He loved to sing, attend operas, and play the violin in both the church and community orchestras.   During his long association with the Brazosport Symphony, he prepared a history of the orchestra and was instrumental in promoting the symphony throughout local communities.   In 2003, Al fulfilled a lifetime dream of traveling to Bayreuth, Germany, to see a performance of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle.

Al was a long-time member of the First Baptist Church in lake Jackson.   As a former boy scout, Al enjoyed working with Scouts in the Brazosport Area.   He loved hiking and bicycling, exploring many of the national and state parks across the country.   In the late 70's he and Beverley developed an avid interest in bird watching, and they spent many years traveling throughout the United States and the world, adding to their life bird lists.   Al was also active in community service, working with Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue, Meals on Wheels, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Published in The Facts, December 1, 2010.   Photo by Tom Morris, 1993

Al was a member of the TMN-COT Class of 2003.   His son Stephen is an Entomologist with the USDA Forest Service.   He presented "Southern Pine Beetle" at the TMN-COT meeting in August 2007.


Charles Clements, age 65 of Liverpool, Texas passed away Monday, March 19, 2012 at his residence on Tuesday, March 21, 2012.

Charles was a resident of Liverpool, Texas, formerly of Texas City, Texas.   He worked for UTMB for 23 years as the Radiology Storeroom Manager and was a member of the Catholic faith.   He served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam Conflict from 1967-1969.

Published in The Facts on March 22, 2012.

Charlie had been a member of the Cradle of Texas since 2010.

Charlie came to us when he was already ill, but he didn't let that define his life.   Charlie was in love with the outdoors and with passing on his excitement about nature to children.   He knew exactly what he wanted to do with the days allotted to him.

I remember once when we had a group of school children with their teachers at the Refuge we heard a comment from the teachers as they left Charlie's session.   One teacher turned to another and said "Isn't he charming?"   Well that was too good to pass up.   She was right and thus he immediately earned his title "Charming Charlie."

Charming Charlie will always be remembered for love of working with the kids and for his dedication to being there to help when and where he could.

Oh, yes, we will remember Charlie!

Unpublished remembrance by a Bryan Adams, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, March 21, 2012


The Reverend Peter Michael Conaty, age 69, of West Columbia, passed away in August 2017.   He was born in New York City in 1948 to Irish parents, Peter Joseph and Anna Sheridan Conaty.   He was married to Susan Johnson Conaty.

In September 1999, Father Conaty became the priest for St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Columbia and served for over 17 years.   During that time, he was instrumental in the preservation of the Nash Prairie, one of the last remaining segments of the Great Coastal Prairie.   Since 2013 under his leadership, St. Mary's has sponsored the attendance of all the West Columbia Elementary fifth-grade students to the Discovery Program at Camp Allen.

May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Published on the Baker Funeral Home website in August 2017.
Photo credit The Nature Conservancy.

Although Reverend Conaty was not a member of the Cradle of Texas Chapter, he was closely associated with the goals of our chapter, notably the preservation of the Nash Prairie and its subsequent purchase by The Nature Conservancy.   Rev. Conaty's wife Susan Conaty is a member of the Cradle of Texas Chapter, Class of 2001.

    •   A tribute to Peter Conaty.

Carl Dodson Jr., 71, resident of Lake Jackson, Texas, peacefully passed away on January 8, 2013, at his home surrounded by family.   Carl served on the Lake Jackson City Council, was chairman of the Lake Jackson Parks Board, a founding member of the Brazoria County Boys Club, and a long-time member of the Lake Jackson Jaycees.

Published The Facts on January 10, 2013.

Carl was an active member of the Cradle of Texas Chapter.   He served as Chapter President during 2005 and for a few months during 2010.   During his tenure as president, he was instrumental in establishing the Environmental Education Program at BP Amoco, predecessor to the company known today as INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA.   Carl was also a very active volunteer at Sea Center Texas.

Unpublished remembrance by Chapter members.


Gerald D. Forrest passed away on August 2, 2015 at the age of 74 after a battle with Esophageal cancer.   He was born in 1940 in Oaks Oklahoma.   Gerald had a difficult start in life when he lost his parents and sister to tragic circumstances at the age of two.   His only remaining family member was his beloved brother Bill.   After serving in the United States Navy, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University.   After graduation, Gerald moved to Houston where he stayed for the remainder of his life.   He worked at Automatic Switch CO (ASCO) as a Sales Engineer for the majority of his career.   After his retirement, Gerald spent his time cultivating his large garden and sharing his love of nature as a volunteer with the Naturalist TMN COT chapter and the Master Gardeners group.

Published in the Houston Chronicle on August 7, 2015

Gerald was member of the TMN-COT Class of 2006.   He served was elected as Chapter Treasurer in 2014 and served in that capacity until his death.


Dr. Richard Allan "Dick" Hickner completed the migration of his life on Sunday, January 27, 2019, in Lake Jackson, Texas.

Dr. Hickner was the eighth child born to Frank and Hazel Hickner of Baudette, Minnesota, on June 29th, 1932.  He was born in Baudette, Minnesota.  He graduated from Saint John's University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Chemistry and later earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from Purdue University.  There he met his future wife, Doris Bolduc, and they married in August of 1956.  He moved his young family to Midland, Michigan, where he would become a research chemist for the Dow Chemical Company.  Dr. Hickner worked for Dow for thirty-four years and received numerous patents for his efforts.  In 1972, the Hickner family moved to Lake Jackson, Texas, where he lived until the time of his death.

In addition to his work at Dow, he was an active outdoorsman who volunteered with the National Wildlife Refuge system and often travelled to Austin and Washington DC on his own to lobby for protections for wildlife.  During those many trips, he took thousands of pictures of migratory birds and other wildlife.

Funeral services will be held at Restwood Funeral Home at 1038 W. Plantation Dr. in Clute, TX on Saturday, February 2, 2019.  The family would like to thank A-Med Hospice and Help Inc. for all their assistance.

Published in The [Brazosport] Facts on January 30, 2019.

Although Dr. Hickner was not a member of the Cradle of Texas Chapter, he was closely associated with the goals of our chapter, notably the Discovery Environmental Education Program at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.  He was a founding member of Friends of Brazoria Wildlife Refuges, and was instrumental in the planning and construction of the Discovery Center at the refuge.

As part of his volunteer work at the refuges he took numerous photographs of volunteer activites.  A selection of these photos is posted here.


Thomas Lloyd Holt III (Tommie), 86, of Lake Jackson, TX, departed his earthly home on May 22, 2020. Tommie was born to Thomas Lloyd Holt, Jr. and Ruth Elizabeth Moers on April 24, 1934 in Houston, TX. He attended Milby High School, and then went on to graduate from Texas A&M University in 1956. On June 18,1960, in Houston, Texas, he married Catherine Lois Gaudin. He accepted a job at Dow Chemical and they moved to Lake Jackson, Texas where they built a life together that revolved around his love for their children (and later their grandchildren) their church, and service to the community. Tommie’s endless enthusiasm for life led him to him volunteer for many organizations: 4-H Adult Leaders; Brazoria County Fair Association, Christ Renews His Parish, Knights of Columbus, RCIA, Brazoria County Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists. His selfless service garnered awards from many of them. He also umpired for both Baseball and Softball, encouraging many young athletes. He was a member of St. Michaels Catholic Church in Lake Jackson, Greenwood Gun Club, NRA and TSRA. Tommie loved gardening, making beer and wine, fishing, photography and shooting sports. When he joined an organization or picked up a hobby, he gave his all and enjoyed it to the fullest. Tommie never met a stranger.

After 35 years as a respected employee of The Dow Chemical Company, he retired to spend the rest of his life surrounded by his loving family and faithful friends. Tommie is preceded in death by his father, Thomas L Holt Jr, Mother, Ruth Elizabeth Moers Holt, and wife Catherine Lois Gaudin Holt.

Published in The Brazoport Facts.


Fred Earl Lewis, age 61 of Alvin, Texas passed away at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Houston, Texas, in September 2015.   Fred was a resident of Alvin for over 40 years, where he began his engineering career for Amoco Chemicals Chocolate Bayou.   After 25+ years of plant experience, Fred transferred to the upstream side of the business and worked on gas plants and process engineering for BP in many areas of the US.   He was a chemical engineer and Christian by faith.

Published on the website of Scott Funeral Home, Alvin, Texas.
©2010 - 2016 Scott Funeral Home

Fred was a member of the TMN-COT Class of 2003.   Although he was rarely able to attend Chapter meetings due to his work obligations, he led a company-sponsored instructional program for grade-school students centered at the company's Chocolate Bayou Wildlife Conservation Center.   Students from several local school districts, including Alvin and Angleton, regularly attended the program.   Lewis led the program through numerous changes in the ownership of the company: initially BP, subsequent owners included BP Amoco, Innovene, and finally INEOS.


John Thomas Marshall, 75, peacefully passed on February 24, 2019, at his home in Lake Jackson, Texas. He was born on July 28, 1943, to Jack and Beverly Marshall in Little Rock, Arkansas. He spent his childhood years in Mobile, Alabama and attended college at Emory University and Georgia Tech, where he received degrees in mathematics and chemical engineering.

John met his wife, Rosalee, at Emory. They wed in 1965 and moved to Lake Jackson in 1967, where he pursued his 35-year career at The Dow Chemical Company. At Dow, John held various roles in process engineering, and was instrumental in developing the first Risk Assessment tools used at Dow and throughout the industry.

John enjoyed woodworking as a favorite pastime. In his retirement, John enjoyed travelling the world with his wife, family and friends, volunteering to include wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

Published on the Restwood Funeral Home website in February 2019.

John was a member of the class of 2004, and was an active participant in the activites of the chapter.   He accrued more than 2200 volunteer service hours, and was awarded a 1000-hour service pin in March 2008.


Maurice Monie passed away in January 2013, at his home in West Columbia, Texas, after a four-year battle with cancer.   In his younger days, he had served as a member of the Marine Corp reserves, and a member of the Louisiana National Guard.   He subsequently served in a number of positions in the marine shipping industry.   After retiring, he and his wife Carolyn May-Monie volunteered as docents at the Houston Zoo.   After moving to the West Columbia area, Maurice and Carolyn joined the TMN Cradle of Texas Chapter, earning certification in the Class of 2002.   Maurice loved animals and teaching children.   He and Carolyn often participated in the Chapter's Environmental Education activities including DEEP and LEEP.   Maurice also volunteered at Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue, transporting injured wildlife to rehabbers.

Published in The Facts, February 6, 2013 with additional contributions by COT Chapter members.


Oliver Osborn, the son of Oliver Steele Osborn and Leigh White Osborn was born in El Paso, Texas in 1917.   He died in March 2018 at age 102 at his home in Lake Jackson.

Osborn grew on cotton farm near El Paso where he developed a great love for the outdoors, birds and wild animals and he tried to tame all of them.   He attended Texas A&M University, graduating with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1938.   He joined the Dow Chemical Company as Superintendent of the Instrument in 1941 when Dow was building a wartime magnesium plant.

During his 37 years as a Dow employee, he worked as a Supervisor in four different research departments.   He was a member of the American Chemical Society, the Society of Chemical Engineers and the Electro Chemical Society.   He was very partial to Texas A&M and talked a number of young people to attend.

Published in The Facts on April 1, 2018.

Osborn was a founding member of the Texas Master Naturalist Cradle of Texas Chapter, and certified as a Texas Master Naturalist as a member of the Class of 2001.   He was inducted as Member Emeritus at the general meeting on May 8, 2013.


Ramah O'Gorman passed away in January 2014.   She grew up in Cuero, Texas, where she was the salutatorian at Cuero High School.   She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in biology from the University of the Incarnate Word.   While a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, she met the love of her life, medical student Leo Dennis O'Gorman.   After marrying in 1962, they raised a family together and shared more than fifty-one years of devoted and loving marriage.

After raising her children, Ramah pursued another dream, becoming an elementary school teacher.   She earned a Master of Science in Elementary Education at the University of Houston Clear Lake, again graduating summa cum laude.   She was elected into the Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies.   She then taught fourth grade at Rancho Isabella Elementary School in Angleton for many years.   Named Rancho Isabella Teacher of the Year in 1991, she was nominated for Teacher of the Year in Angleton ISD and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Published on ObitTree in January 2014.


Dianne Lee Richmond, of Lake Jackson, passed away in November 2017 in her home surrounded by her loving children.   She was born in Corpus Christi, and grew up in La Marque, Texas.   She worked for 22 years as a nurse at Brazosport Memorial Hospital and five years in Pediatric Home Health.   She loved her family, animals, nature and traveling.   She was a Master Naturalist and volunteered at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Brazoria County Disaster Relief and Safety Town.   She was a member of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Lake Jackson.

Published on Dignity Restwood Funeral Home website in November 2017.

Dianne Richmond was a member of the TMN-COT Class of 2005.   She participated in several environmental education programs including DEEP, INEOS EE program, the Phillips 66 EE program.   She volunteered at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.


Earl was a member of the Texas Master Naturalist Cradle of Texas Chapter, based in Angleton, Texas.   He was an active member of the chapter during the last years of his life, serving as a docent leading tours of National Wildlife Refuges and as a van driver during our annual spring nature festival known as Migration Celebration.   Earl shared his knowledge of the natural world with school-age children as part of our Environmental Education Program.   Although Earl suffered from diabetes, he was always cheerful and friendly.

Unpublished remembrance by COT Chapter members.


Susan "Suzie" Ann Safley passed away in October 2019.  Suzie was a graduate of St. Agnes Academy in Houston, receiving a B.A. in Arts from St. Dominic, Houston.  During her career she worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Brazoria County Fair.  She was a member of the Texas Master Naturalist Cradle of Texas Class of 2016.  She participated in many chapter activities including Intern Team Project at Nash Prairie Preserve.

Unpublished remembrance by COT Chapter members.


John Charles "Easy" Thayer, born May 11, 1946 joined God's team of angels on August 13, 2008 as a result of complications from cardiac bypass surgery.   John was allowed to remain here with us many times in the past, overcoming health issues including cancer and a previous cardiac bypass, to fulfill God's plan for his life.   John retired from Dow Chemical after 34 years of service.   He enjoyed the outdoors and serving the community as a Master Naturalist, Boy Scout Leader (Troop 394), member of the Lake Jackson Parks and Recreation Board, and was active as a bird bander through the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.

Published in the Houston Chronicle, August 15, 2008

John was an active member of the Chapter, and served as Advanced Training Chair. Several photos of John's activities are posted here.


John L. Tveten, a naturalist, author, photographer and longtime Houston Chronicle columnist, died of cancer on October 12. 2009.   He was 74.

For more than 30 years, Tveten wrote about and photographed creatures of nature and wildflowers.   He wrote numerous books and co-authored five with his wife of 51 years, Gloria.   The Baytown couple traveled widely in pursuit of nature and shared their adventures in Wildflowers of Houston and Southeast Texas and Butterflies of Houston and Southeast Texas, both published by University of Texas Press.

He also was a naturalist and tour leader for the Smithsonian Institution, National Audubon Society, Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Spring Branch Nature Center.

Tveten is survived by his wife; a son, Michael Tveten, of Tucson, Ariz., and two grandchildren.

Published in the Houston Chronicle, October 17, 2009

Although John Tveten was not a member of our chapter, he was a guest speaker and a source of inspiration.   He will be fondly remembered by the members of our chapter.


Donald "Don" VanDragt, age 73, passed away on Friday, August 14, in Arvada, Colorado.   Don attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Packaging Engineering.   While at MSU, he met Patricia Martin and they were married in August, 1966.   In 1974, began his 23-year career with The Dow Chemical Company.   The family moved to Lake Jackson, Texas, when he transferred to Dow's Texas Operations in 1979, advancing his career in operations and project management.   He retired from Dow in 1997, but continued to work as a contract engineer and project manager for a few years.   His wife died in 2005.   In 2011, he moved to Golden, Colorado, to live near his youngest daughter and his beloved Colorado mountains.

Don will always be remembered as an outdoorsman and traveler, whether it was fishing on the Texas Gulf Coast with his buddies, driving a camper trailer through Alaska, or backpacking in New Zealand.   He coached many youth softball and soccer teams and contributed greatly to the development of the girls' youth soccer program in Lake Jackson.   Don also never met a dog he didn't like, and there's never been a dog that didn't love Don.

Published by the Olinger Crown Hill Mortuary & Cemetery website on August 20, 2015.

Don was a member of the TMN-COT Class of 2010.   His participated in trail construction at Dow Woods Unit and he attended the 2011 Matagorda Island trip.

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The Texas Master Naturalist program is coordinated by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Texas Master Naturalist programs serve all people without regard to socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.