HOUGHTON - Michigan Technological University President Glenn Mroz recalled Gene Hesterberg as a man who had a knack for remembering names and a good sense of timing.
"It's a time of great joy for Michigan Tech but life has a way of tearing us from that euphoria every once in a while," he said.
Hesterberg, 92, a former forestry head at the university, died Sept. 26, at the Delaware House of PortagePointe.
At Thursday's Board of Control meeting, Mroz spoke of his time at Michigan Tech as a student when he really came to know Hesterberg.
"Title of department chair for Gene Hesterberg didn't adequately cover what Gene did," Mroz said.
In fact, Hesterberg played a huge role in the lives of students, faculty and staff, and was a former army captain.
"You always knew the discussion was considered, the options were evaluated and the decisions were made," Mroz said. "More than anything else, you knew Gene had a good sense of timing."
As a student, Mroz said he quickly learned when a student visited Hesterberg's office, he had the student sit next to the desk rather than across from him.
"Usually you had time, when you walked into his office and he's talking on the phone, to ponder this little sign on his desk and it said, 'Do something. Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way,'" Mroz said. "Eventually, I inherited the plaque that was on his desk and now it's on my desk."
Hesterberg, of Hancock, came to the forestry department in 1948. He was named department head in 1962 and held the position until his retirement in 1981. In 1980, he received Tech's Distinguished Teacher Award and was named a fellow in the Society of American Foresters being inducted into the Michigan Forestry Hall of Fame.
He was born Aug. 30, 1918, in Cincinnati and served in the army during World War II. He earned a bachelor's degree from Purdue University and his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan. He was a biologist with the Michigan Department of Conservation before coming to Michigan Tech to teach.
Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.