Bill Mayhew, Founding Member of UC Riverside, Died on September 19th, Aged 94

Pioneering ecologist dedicated himself to securing natural reserves for the University of California

Wilbur (Bill) Mayhew.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Professor Emeritus Wilbur (Bill) W. Mayhew, a founding member of the University of California, Riverside campus in 1954, died on Sept. 19, 2014.

Mayhew served as an active professor in the Department of Zoology until his retirement in1989.  Prior to that, Mayhew was a decorated veteran of World War II who completed his military service with a Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart, and Presidential Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters.  After the war he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in zoology from UC Berkeley (1948, 1951, and 1953, respectively). His graduate research was conducted under the mentorship of A. Starker Leopold.

While at UC Riverside Mayhew taught more than 5600 students and field classes.

“More than just that Professor Mayhew was a visionary and leader,” said Kimberly Hammond, a professor of biology at UC Riverside and the director of the UC Riverside Natural Reserve System. “He not only introduced thousands of students to the beauty of the natural world but he was deeply involved in the protection of natural California habitats throughout the state.”

In the early 1960s, with rare vision and foresight Mayhew, Ken Norris of UC Santa Cruz, and Mildred Mathias of UC Los Angeles foresaw the urbanization of California and the loss of natural areas for research and teaching. They were the founders of the UC Natural Reserve System, which today is comprised of 39 reserves with more than 130,000 acres of protected land for research and teaching.

Norris once wrote of Mayhew that he had ‘shown the way for people of all stripes and persuasions to take part in attempts to preserve and protect important parts of wild America, and he has often succeeded in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems in the way. Priceless wildlife reserves have been established because of him, including ones of thousands of acres of now totally unobtainable wildland adjacent to high-priced real estate.’

“Mayhew’s wife, Corinne, and family were highly supportive of his legacy in protecting California’s critical habitat and energizing young minds about the natural world,” Hammond said.

At his passing, Mayhew was 94 years old.

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