Cover photo for Dr. Harold R. Hungerford's Obituary
Dr. Harold R. Hungerford Profile Photo
1928 Dr. Harold 2022

Dr. Harold R. Hungerford

January 21, 1928 — February 26, 2022

Dr. Harold Ralph Hungerford, 94, passed away at his home on the morning of February 26, 2022. Harold was born in Kankakee, Illinois, on January 21, 1928 to Alice Mary (Hardy) Hungerford and Harold Norton Hungerford. He married Patricia Elise Clapper in 1951.

Harold grew up in Momence, Illinois, where he enjoyed fishing, duck hunting, and trapping. His boyhood experiences around the Kankakee River led him to become a strong advocate for the natural environment, nature conservation, and environmental education.

Harold began his college career at Blackburn College, one of a handful of self-help schools where students ran campus operations with minimal faculty supervision. He received an Associates of Arts Degree from Blackburn in 1947, and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Illinois State Normal University in 1949. He completed an additional Master of Science degree from Illinois State in 1953. His thesis was based on biological research on mosquitoes that he had conducted as a researcher in the Air Force. While teaching fourth and sixth grade high school biology in Kankakee, he earned his Leadership Certificate from the University of Illinois which enabled him to assume administrative roles in the school district. He went on to become Principal of West Junior High School in Kankakee in 1957. In 1964, the family moved to Carbondale, where Harold taught biology at the University School, and pursued his Ph.D. in Education. He eventually became Professor of Education, specializing in Science and Environmental Education.

He had a long career in his field and became widely regarded as a founder of environmental education in the United States. During his time at Southern Illinois University, the institution was viewed as being at the forefront of environmental education. He received the highest honors in his field and was recognized as an excellent teacher, mentor, researcher, and curriculum writer. His career led him to travel across the world. He led hundreds of teacher workshops funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education to educate teachers about implementing his curriculum in their classrooms. Subsequently, he led leadership workshops funded by the Environmental Protection Agency where the most successful teachers became skilled workshop leaders in their area. He published hundreds of professional papers and books and his environmental education curriculum has been used throughout the world.

Harold was also a world-class professional photographer, winning many awards. He made several trips to Africa as attested by beautiful photos of African wildlife.

Harold had many, many friends from all walks of life. In his later years, many people contributed to his care, so that he was able to remain at home. Dr. Trudi Volk was a constant friend, companion, and caregiver. Many others made significant contributions to his care and they include Traci Jenkel and Brad Friedline. Harold’s caregivers became fast friends and they openly acknowledged how much they learned from him about nature. They enjoyed his sense of humor, and his love of music, as he introduced them to the songs and artists of his day.

Harold is predeceased by his wife, Patricia, and is survived by his daughter, Dr. Linda Hungerford of Sumner, Illinois; his daughter Dr. Suzanne Hungerford and son-in-law Dr. Patrick Coppens, of Morrisonville, NY.

There will be a celebration of his life on Friday, March 4, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale. He will be buried in Momence, IL. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his memory to the Nature Conservancy or Ducks Unlimited.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, March 4, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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