SOUTH WOODSTOCK — A private memorial will be held at a later date for close friends and family for Dr. Edgar William Garbisch Jr., 79, who died peacefully in his home in South Woodstock with friends and family at his side on July 3, 2012.
A quiet man with a spirited sense of humor, Ed Garbisch will always be remembered for his trust in humanity, his generosity to all, and his gifts to science and the natural world.
Born in New York City on October 3, 1932, son of the late Bernice Chrysler and Edgar Garbisch, Ed Jr.
He grew up both in the city and on the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland. In 1954 he received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After two years as Lieutenant JG in the Navy, he went to Northwestern University where he received a Ph.D. in Chemistry, later settling into full professorship at the University of Minnesota.
During his sabbatical year in 1971, Dr. Garbisch rearranged his life. Returning with his family to his childhood home in Maryland, Ed became inspired to pursue the construction of tidal wetlands. Rather than seeing such shoreline regions as useless land to be developed, Ed recognized the wetland’s vital role in the natural world. In 1972, Dr. Garbisch became Founder and President of Environmental Concern in St. Michaels, Maryland. There he became one of the earliest proponents of a technique of marsh construction known as “nonstructural shoreline control.” Wetlands were reclaimed or created using native plants, propagated in greenhouses at EC. Planting these many grasses produced a living shoreline to protect against erosion, provide habitat for animals, and also serve as a filtering system to help clean the polluted waters. Such work was and continues to be done by Environmental Concern up and down the east coast. Before retiring from EC in 2005, Dr. Garbisch shifted his focus toward the educational side of wetland development, creating materials and programs aimed at everyone from professionals to the general public. The creation and preservation of wetlands is now recognized as a vital component of the global ecology. Planting his first marshgrass, Dr. Garbisch never thought his work would be pioneering. He simply thought it was useful and necessary for the world.
Ed Garbisch is survived by his wife, Joanna Lloyd Garbisch of South Woodstock, VT; his sister, Gwynne McDevitt of Newtown Square, PA; his first wife, Georgine Garbisch of St. Michaels, MD; his daughter, Josi Fleishman of New York, NY; his son, Leif Garbisch of Ghent, NY; and four grandchildren.
A hard worker always, Ed devoted himself first to his chemistry and later to his marsh building. But just under the surface was a large heart for others, and at the end of his life his love was truly felt by all.
Donations can be made in Dr. Garbisch’s memory either to The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street NW, Washington DC 20037 or The Society For Ecological Restoration, 1071 O Street NW, Washington DC 20001
Condolences may be offered by visiting cabotfh.com
This obituary first appeared in the July 12, 2012 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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