Marek, George Thomas
George Thomas Marek passed away peacefully at Noric House in Vernon, BC on January 8th, 2003 at 82 years old. He is survived by his loving wife, Helen, daughter, Kathie Swift of Vernon and son, David of Smithers, BC, son-in-law, Gary, daughter-in-law, Cindy, grandchildren, Morgan, Ethan and Dylan and a sister and her family in the Czech Republic. In respecting George's wishes, he was cremated and there will be no Funeral Service held.Marek, long-time resident of Beardmore, was well known in northwestern Ontario for his contributions to boreal forest management. He was a field forester for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources where, after arriving in Canada from Czechoslavakia in 1951 as a third generation forester, he started practising forestry with private industry. He received his Canadian citizenship papers in 1957 shortly after joining the provincial Department of Lands and Forests in Geraldton. He established some of the first plantations in northwestern Ontario at Tyrol and Limestone Lakes near Nipigon and Beardmore, which he continued to observe and learn from long after his early retirement from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Nipigon District in 1984. He served proudly for 27 years as a forester, often saying that he knew no higher calling than to be a 'civil servant', that is to serve the people. Marek's retirement came after a very public battle in the early 1980s with the Ministry about forest practices in northern Ontario which led to a public discussion about needed improvements in forest management. Marek's entire career was devoted to better management of northern forests, and he advocated the now commonly used term, 'ecosystem management' as early as the 1960s. His work with scientists on black spruce ecosystem silviculture in the 1970s and 80s was a reflection of this approach and he was proud to share with Leo Vidlak, another Czech forester who practiced in northwestern Ontario, the title 'pioneer of small area clearcut management. 'Marek felt a special bond with Aboriginal people in the area, having worked with them as treeplanters to establish the Tyrol and Limestone plantations and, in his retirement, working with the local communities of Ginoogaming and Rocky Bay First Nations on forest management issues, both on reserve and off. He also acted as a consultant to the Innu of Labrador when they began exploring the possibilities of assuming responsibility for forest management in their land claim area.Marek was always generous about sharing his long years of field experience in Boreal ecology with foresters, environmentalists, ministers, scientists, students, academics, bureaucrats, journalists and anyone else who recognized his remarkable knowledge. He will be missed by the many people in northwestern Ontario whose lives and work he touched and influenced.As an expression of sympathy, donations in memory of George Marek may be sent to either the Ontario Professional Foresters Foundation (see OPFF at http://www.opfa.on.ca/index2.htm) which assists students in programs leading to their acceptance as Registered Professional Foresters in Ontario, 3-800 Yonge St. , Innisfil ON L9S 1L5 or the George T. Marek Memorial Award which will be given to forestry students at Lakehead University who carry out research in keeping with Marek's life's work, c/o Development Office, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay ON P7B 5E1.