University professor emeritus Lee Pierce Herrington passed away on September 19, 2021 at the age of 88. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 65 years, Nancy Jean Herrington. He led a life of excellence and character as a father, husband, scholar, teacher, and friend.
Born on June 11, 1933 in New Haven, Connecticut, he graduated from Hamden Hall Country Day School where he and Nancy met and made lifelong friends. Lee’s advanced education began at the University Maine. His studies were interrupted when he volunteered for service in the Army during the Korean War. He and Nancy married in 1955 and they moved to Maine where he completed his degree in forestry. Lee earned a Master’s Degree in Tree Physiology and a PhD in Forest Meteorology from Yale University. His research on the role of weather and microclimates in the spread and development of forest fires was groundbreaking.
In 1966, he began his career at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) where he developed an interest in Urban Forestry, the study of how trees interact with urban environments. He was a leader of the Tree City USA movement and contributed to the beautification of cityscapes throughout the country.
Professor Herrington was a pioneer in GIS technology. Beginning in 1984 he taught and conducted research in the application of GIS to environmental and natural resources analysis and management. He went on to serve as the director of the Laboratory for Applied Geographic Information Systems and served on the boards of the Institute for GeoSpatial Technology and the NASA-funded Regional Applications Center for the Northeast at Cayuga Community College.
Among his many honors, Lee treasured his award as Distinguished Teaching Professor of Resources and Information Management at SUNY-ESF (2015) and his Lifetime Achievement Award from NYS GIS (2019). He was the creator of a wind measuring device called a driven anemometer, for which he earned a patent. Among his greatest sources of pride were the generations of graduate students he guided through their academic and social development, eventually filling the ranks of academia, industry and government service with scores of his intellectual progeny. In retirement he treasured the Emeritus Professors Lunch Group at ESF.
A resident of Syracuse for 55 years, Lee enjoyed getaways in the Adirondacks at “Pieces,” the vacation home he and Nancy hand built from an A-frame kit in Indian Lake. He was a skilled craftsman and a true competitor for the best tool collection among his brothers-in-law. Lee was a Ham Radio buff and built his own radios and computers. Full of energy and good humor, he was an avid swimmer and enjoyed skiing, hiking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, sailing and golfing. The latter endeavor he undertook late in life and enjoyed notwithstanding a lock on the highest score awards in golf outings. Though he “never touched the stuff,” he delighted in bringing Nancy her coffee each morning. He was a lifelong student and enjoyed intellectual discourse on such topics as how tree rings teach history and lightning until his passing.
His dedication to his wife included decades of attendance at Syracuse University basketball games. He treasured the conviviality of Carrier Dome Section 113. That said, his amazement at the athleticism and character of generations of Orange notwithstanding, he ultimately disdained the game of basketball itself as he felt no proper contest could have breaking the rules (through fouling) as a legitimate strategy.
Lee is survived by his sons Matthew (Shannon), Bradford (Debbie) and his daughter Susan (Dominic). His son Wayne (Brenda) predeceased him in 2013. His grandchildren are Turner, Ned, Will, Campbell, Alexis, Carson, and Colton. Lee is also survived by a sister, Brenda Isle.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Lee and Nancy Herrington Scholarship Fund at the Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, Connecticut: hamdenhall.org/giving/give-today. Celebrations of Lee and Nancy’s lives will be held in the spring in Essex and in Syracuse.
Burial will be at Riverview Cemetery, Essex, Connecticut.