Dr. Richard A. Booth, President Emeritus of The Wyndham Land Trust, died peacefully at home surrounded by family in mid-October of 2015. Dick was the heart and soul of the land trust and with his passing the natural world lost one of its greatest and most dedicated champions. Dick was a member of the Board of Directors for over two decades serving for 11 years as its President.
From his very beginnings with the land trust, Dick loved researching every property that we acquired. He dug out deeds, tax cards, walked property lines, met with land owners, made maps and identified the abutters. What he enjoyed the most, however, was conducting natural resource inventories of the properties. Dick was an ardent compiler of bird lists and he always had an eye out for unusual plant species. Every time he visited a property he would record all sorts of data down to the number of chickadees and blue jays he encountered. He liked nothing better than to be able to confirm the nesting of bird species that were uncommon in Connecticut. A meticulous record keeper, one of Dick’s memorable quotes was “If it isn’t written down, then it’s folklore.”
We believe Dick felt his greatest accomplishment was preserving most of the Lower Pond area in Thompson. He loved exploring that property as many rare plants, invertebrates and other uncommon wildlife species can be found there. Prior to their acquisition Dick worried greatly about losing those lands and consequently he committed the time, energy and perseverance required to accomplish his objective.
After Dick succeeded Phil James as President he converted an old trailer located on our Lyon Preserve in Pomfret into the Wyndham Land Trust office. He kept an active bird feeding station going on that location which attracted an impressive variety of birds. Dick was especially proud of the fox and field sparrows that regularly visited the feeders as neither species is normally found throughout the winter in this area.
Eventually the office was moved to Pomfret’s Old Town House. This was a major upgrade as it had heat and electricity, both of which the trailer lacked. The Town House provided us a more comfortable, respectable location for our office as well as a better place to store our records. It may have appeared to some as a rather lonely venue but Dick appreciated the quiet and the uninterrupted time which enabled him to do his good work at his own pace while on the Lyon Preserve. Those who did stop by were treated with the latest sightings on the preserves and/or a repeat of favored stories from the past.
Dick, himself, was a rarity. He was totally devoted to the mission of the Wyndham Land Trust. Dick’s legendary eloquence, his great sense of humor, his passion for his cause and his uncommon decency as a human being will never be forgotten by those of us who were fortunate enough to know him. We have lost a most admired and much loved leader, but we have gained renewed strength and inspiration by his example. For that we are ever grateful.
Dick was a board member of the Wyndham Land Trust for many years and served as the President from 2000 to 2011. This is a photo of a land trust meeting at the Golden Lamb in 1987 with, from left to right, Ben Williams, Virginia “Jimmie” Booth, Phil James, Lois Orswell, Dick Booth, and George Jackson.