|Obituary: Leslie C. Hyde|
Leslie Colin Hyde conservationist, sailor, gardener, father, husband and friend, died from complications of bladder cancer Dec. 25, 2017, at his home. He was 71 years old.
Leslie was born in Providence, R.I., Dec. 15, 1946, and spent his childhood on a farm in Smithfield, R.I., where he loved running free in the woods and driving his dad’s tractor. When Les was 16, he joined the Future Farmers of America and was searching for a project when he stumbled on the idea of planting Christmas trees. He cleared an old orchard site and planted 1,000 trees in 1962. This was the beginning of the Hyde Tree Farm, and while Les went on to other adventures, his parents retired to this business and his sister is still selling Christmas trees. He died on a day when the Christmas tree was being celebrated in many households.
Les was a proud graduate of the University of Rhode Island. From there he went to UMass Amherst, where he earned a master's degree in forestry. Departing Amherst, Les went on to work at Cornell University for a couple of years before taking a job working for Cooperative Extension in New York. A client there had a connection to Mosquito Island, off the coast of Martinsville. Always up for an adventure, Les accepted her invitation to explore the island. A visit to Maine evolved into a lifetime in the Midcoast. In coming to Maine he was able to secure a position in Rockland working for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
In his work for the Extension, Les was part of a team that established Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center, offering environmental education for Maine youth. Les believed strongly that the future of conservation depends on the education of youth.
While programs have been primarily for children, Les also facilitated a forestry camp for adults for 25 years. Most of his focus was directed at offering affordable camp experiences for Maine children. He loved working with school programs and in designing a leadership program that helped teenagers explore the St. George River by foot and canoe from its origins at Frye Mountain to Port Clyde. In 2005, learning that Blueberry Cove Camp in Tenants Harbor was for sale, he was instrumental in helping to create an arrangement in which the Tanglewood Board of Directors purchased the camp and the University of Maine leased it.
This was an enormous project but, undaunted, Les collaborated with many people who were deeply committed to Blueberry Cove and helped raise the money necessary to make that dream a reality.
Les’ love for the earth knew no bounds. He loved the tiniest arctic wildflower and the mightiest oak, the smallest vernal pool and the wild Atlantic Ocean. He was a lifelong advocate for land conservation. A founding member of Georges River Land Trust, he also worked on numerous conservation projects with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. His persistent work over two decades was instrumental in the protection of High Island in Tenants Harbor. He was a member of the St. George Conservation Commission. In that capacity, he particularly enjoyed collaborating with the St. George School.
Les was a strong and hard worker wherever he turned his hand. He loved managing his woodlot, gardening, building stone walls and using the magic of hydraulics with his tractor. His chainsaw was his tool of choice and he loved precisely felling a tree. While Les loved working in the woods and garden, he also loved tennis, canoeing and sailing. For years he explored Penobscot Bay in the family’s 14-foot catboat. In 2006 Les and his wife bought a Cape Dory 36 in Florida, sailed to the Bahamas and then home to Maine. Since then, they have enjoyed cruising the coast of Maine and have organized several cruises for the Cape Dory Sailboat Owners Association.
While Les had many friends, it must be said that he loved children the best and gravitated to spending time with them. A number of young adults recall fondly the view of the world from his shoulders. He always had time to make a trail, build a fort or follow a stream with anyone who was a child at heart.
Les is survived by his wife of 36 years, Anne Cogger; his son, Andrew Hyde, and his wife, Sida, of Wakefield, R.I., and their three children, Willa, Weston and Calla; his daughter, Lily Hyde Sytsma, and her husband, Eric, of Tenants Harbor and their children, Will and Lucas; his sister, Shirley Fontenault, and her husband, Ronald, of Smithfield, R.I.; many nieces and nephews; and his Tribe in St. George.
He was predeceased by his parents, R. Colin Hyde and Dorothy Colwell Hyde, as well as his sister, Holly Hyde.
Les would be pleased if you were to make a donation to one of the organizations he believed in so strongly: Georges River Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (Clark Island Project), or the 4-H Camp and Learning Centers at Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove.
All can carry on his legacy by taking a walk in the woods with children, talking to the trees and working to protect the environment.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 3, at 3 p.m. at First Universalist Church, 345 Broadway, Rockland.
Posted on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 (Archive on Tuesday, January 23, 2018)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre Contributed by Jym St. Pierre