By SARA RUBERG
A Keene Valley memorial service is scheduled Aug. 11 for a man known in the Adirondacks as a leader among environmental groups.
Edward “Ed” Fowler died on May 19 after complications from a triple bypass surgery. He was seen as a humble man who was committed to businesses, the arts and the environment. He served on the boards of groups that preserved thousands of acres in the park.
“He really just wanted to contribute,” his son Tom Fowler said. “It was the substance of what he contributed that mattered and not necessarily the accolades or being acknowledged for it.”
He came from even humble beginnings. He grew up in a mountain logging town in Idaho where he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse with one teacher who taught K-12.
After graduating from high school, Fowler went on to Princeton and graduated in 1953 with a degree in politics. His senior thesis opposing a proposed amendment on limiting the president’s foreign agreement-making power would earn him the prestigious Herald Tribune Prize. It was also converted and published in the Journal of International Law.
Fowler then enlisted into the Korean War effort. He served in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps and was stationed in Japan.
After being honorably discharged, Fowler attended Yale Law School and was part of the Law Journal there. He graduated from Yale in 1959. During his time at Yale, he met and married his wife, Carolyn Fowler.
Fowler started his professional career at Debevoise & Plimpton law firm in New York City. After several years, he eventually made his way to Mobil Corp’s legal department. Fowler spent 26 years there, which would be the rest of his professional career. The last eight years at Mobil, Fowler earned his place as Mobil’s general counsel.
When his kids, Tom and Barbara, were growing up, Fowler began taking the family up to the Adirondack Park for backpacking and camping trips. Then, in the late ‘90s, he started building his legacy among the various Adirondack conservation organizations.
At the Nature Conservancy Adirondack Chapter, Fowler served on the board for 18 years, and two terms as a chairman. Under his leadership, the organization was able to protect more than 34,000 acres—26,500 acres was bought from International Paper, which sparked the beginning of large acquisitions from timber companies. He was on the board for some of the organizations biggest transactions for both the Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust. He also served on the Adirondack Council’s board.
Mike Carr, executive director of the Adirondack Land Trust, worked with Fowler since the early 2000s. He said Fowler was a mentor to him.
“The places he helped to protect are permanently protected,” Carr said. “His conservation legacy will live on in that way… the spirit and behavior that he modeled for all of us will live on in us and will translate into more conservation.”
The Aug. 11 memorial service is scheduled at the Keene Valley Congregational Church.