Dr. Harry Wayne Springfield '59

                     09/24/1920 – 06/19/2013

Dr. Harry Wayne Springfield


Dr. Harry Wayne Springfield was a generous and talented individual, not only in research and education, but in many areas where he excelled, including being a championship-level tennis player on the senior circuit, a savvy investor, and in service to his church.  He also gave his talent as an Army Air Corps navigator in Europe during World War II.  He was witty and a great storyteller who could keep one mesmerized with his tales, often based on his own experiences. He established the Harry Wayne Springfield ’59 Graduate Student Endowment in the department of Rangeland Ecology and Management, Texas A&M University in 1995.  The Endowment will be able to fund more research and continue Dr. Springfield life long work.

 Harry Wayne Springfield was born on 24 September 1920 in Dayton, Ohio.  He spent much of his youth in southern California but much later, at the end of WWII, became enamored with the Southwest.  In testament to his varied talents, as a boy of 13, he performed as a member of the Boys Golden Chorus in the Hollywood Bowl in 1933.  He shared the stage with such well-known Hollywood stars as Tom Mix, Jackie Cooper, Bing Crosby, and Ginger Rogers.  In 1938, he enrolled at the University of New Mexico and completed a BS in Biology  in 1942 (with the Senior Award in Biology).  His plans to pursue graduate studies (at Iowa State) were interrupted by WWII.  After many training “adventures” from 1942 to 1944, the Navy V7 “90-day wonder” program at Columbia University, the Army Air Corps pilot training (in bi-planes in AZ), and finally, and navigation school in Texas, he was assigned in January 1945 to the 96th Squadron of the 440th Group of the 9th Troop Carrier Command of the 9th Army at Orleans, France.  He served as the radio operator for the commanding officer of the 440th Troop Carrier Command and flew in Curtiss C-46 Commandos until the end of the war.  The 440th became famous for its role in flying in paratroopers during the Normandy invasion and later delivering supplies in relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. 

 After V-E day(7 May, 1945), he continued to be stationed in Biarritz, France and was able to take college-level courses from other servicemen stationed there through the American University.  His first introduction to the range of the southwest was in a course “Southwestern Range Ecology”, taught by Capt. John Fenley.  He also took a course on the “Flora of Southern France” taught by Dr. Stanley Cain, a botany professor at the University of Tennessee who, 20 years later, became Assistant Secretary of the Interior in Washington, D.C.

 After his release from service, he enrolled at Colorado A&M University as a graduate student in range management and ecology, but then transferred to the University of Arizona in January 1947 to continue his MS graduate studies in botany and range science under Dr. Robert Darrow.

 While at Colorado A&M University, professor Clint Wasser, later Dean of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, was a key individual who helped him get started in his career as a range scientist and by preparing him with the needed knowledge base for passing the federal exams required for employment with the US Forest Service (USFS).

 In the summer of 1947 he began his first job related to range science as a summer research assistant with the USFS Southwestern Range Experiment Station in Arizona. His supervisor at the time was Ken Parker, who later became USFS Chief of Range Management in Washington D.C.  In September, he was hired as a range conservationist.  But, as an employee of the USFS, he continued his studies and completed his MS in May 1949.  In 1950 he enrolled at Texas A&M University to pursue the PhD.  While still working for the USFS, he completed this degree in 1959.  His major professor was Robert A. Darrow.  Also in 1950 he married his sweetheart Cordelia.  They were married for 37 years until she died in 1987.

 His Forest Service career of 32 years spanned the years from 1947 to 1975 when he retired.  During this time he served as range conservationist (research) and later as range scientist and project leader, as part of the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station with headquarters in Fort Collins, CO.  He was located at Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest (AZ), Jornada Experimental Range (NM), on the campus of the University of NM from 1954 to 1962, and in Albuquerque until he retired to Sun City, AZ in 1975.

 During 1952 to 1954 he was assigned to Iraq to conduct range evaluation studies under the auspices of the United Nations, to develop a rehabilitation program for Iraq’s depleted range resources. 

 He was a charter member of the Society of Range Management (SRM) in 1948, and was later honored by that organization for his contributions in the field of range science and management with a citation that in part read…..”much of our current research is based on his work.”

 During his career he published over 50 scientific articles and publications.

 While working for the USFS, Wayne discovered an undescribed species of grass which was then classified by Dr. Frank Gould at Texas A&M and named Andropogon springfieldii.

 Upon retirement, he remained in the Southwest he loved and lived in Sun City, Arizona, until his death in June 2013.

 Written and edited by Dr. C. Patrick Reid, former head of the School of Renewable Natural Resources at the University of Arizona.


We in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management are honored to claim Dr. Springfield as our graduate and friend.  His generosity will benefit future generations of rangeland ecologists as their professional accomplishments continue to honor Dr. Springfield.