Late Conservationist Honored This Earth Day In Southwest Suburbs

Bernie Tafoya
April 19, 2019 - 11:49 am
Dick Thomas

Photo courtesy of the Lake Katherine Nature Center

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- An avid conservationist is being honored this weekend and Monday on Earth Day in the southwest suburbs.

On the west end of the Lake Katherine Nature Center in Palos Heights, in what's called the Children's Forest, 82-year-old retired teacher Dick Thomas will be remembered Monday. He died in December. 

According to Lake Katherine Director and Chief Naturalist Gareth Blakesley, a burr oak tree is being planted in his honor, a bench has been set up near it and a small loop trail is being named for him. 

"He sort of embodies the idea of conservation, about hard work, mentorship and education," Blakesley said.

Thomas would do anything asked of him and had a big interest in eliminating invasive plants from the 85-acre nature center.

"He would go out and diligently cut down buckthorn and honeysuckle. He was almost obsessed with it, which is great. That’s what you want," Blakesley said.

Dick Thomas at Earth Day 2008 at the Lake Katherine Nature Center in Palos Heights.
Photo courtesy of the Lake Katherine Nature Center

Blakesley said Dick Thomas loved talking to people who were visiting Lake Katherine, gave out books to co-workers who expressed an interest in a certain subject and acted as a mentor to many. 

Dick Thomas is also being remembered by the Thorn Creek Audubon Society, the Friends of Orland Grasslands and the Forest Preserve District of Will County. 

Next Saturday, Dick Thomas will be remembered by Friends of Orland Grassland Volunteers who are dedicating their Earth Day celebration to him. The day will begin with remarks about Thomas and the site's kiosk will be filled with pictures of Thomas in action at Orland Grasslands.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County will honor Thomas during a workday Saturday, Sept. 28 at Isle A La Cache.