Washington, D.C., May 20, 2011 —American Farmland Trust (AFT) mourns the loss of Edward Harte, 88, a lifelong conservationist, philanthropist and board member. “Ed was someone who was a born conservationist, leaving a legacy of environmental works that stretch from sea to shining sea,” said Jon Scholl, AFT President.
Harte, who passed away this week at a Maine retirement community, was well known as a committed conservationist—protecting farm and ranch land, donating land to national parks, and working to preserve the health of our water and oceans through the endowment of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi.
“Ed Harte was also generous with his time and considerable talents as a board member,” adds Ralph Grossi, former AFT President. Harte joined the AFT board in 1985, and helped the organization expand its regional network and establish farm and ranch land protection in the state of Texas.
“He teamed up with other board members including Pat Noonan, Bill Dietel, Peggy Rockefeller and Lou Benzak to promote AFT and its issues, bringing AFT to its national position as the leading conservation organization dedicated to saving farm and ranch land, promoting sound environmental practices and supporting a sustainable future for farms,” Grossi added. In 1996, Harte became AFT’s first appointment to the Peggy Rockefeller Endowed Life Chair, and served until his death as a special advisor to the AFT President and Chairman.
Grossi also noted that Harte’s love of farm and ranchland was deeply imbued in his children. His daughter, Julia Harte Widdowson served as an AFT board member, and son Will was recently elected to begin board service. “Through his children, and the many citizens he inspired to be stewards of our nation’s natural resources, his legacy will live on,” Grossi says.
A native of Missouri where he was born in 1922, Harte was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and an avid journalist. He later joined his father’s newspaper business, Harte-Hanks Company that owned 70 newspapers nationwide at one time. During his career he was known for his long-time coverage of Mexico’s political and current events, and his early coverage of immigration and international relations issues. Harte was appointed publisher of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 1962, a position he held for 25 years until his retirement.
Harte was predeceased by his wife Janet. He is survived by his brother, Houston Harte; and children Christopher, William, Elizabeth Owens and Julia Widdowson; and numerous grandchildren. Funeral services have not been announced.