Thomas Tyler III, 55, commercial forester balanced business, environmental demands

August 15, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Thomas O. Tyler III, a commercial forester who earned a reputation for balancing the demands of business and environmentalists, died Monday of cancer at his home in Vienna on the Eastern Shore. He was 55.

In 1966, he abandoned an apprenticeship in bricklaying and became a forest technician for Chesapeake Corp. of Virginia, a paper manufacturer. At his death, he was regional forester for the Woodlands Division of Chesapeake Forest Products, a subsidiary which owns and manages some 330,000 acres of timberland in Maryland.

He also was in charge of the firm's government relations and environmental affairs in Maryland.

Chesapeake has earned high marks from federal and state wildlife managers and conservationists for protecting the environment while operating its commercial forests.

Tom Horton, a reporter for The Sun, wrote a profile of Mr. Tyler for The Sun Magazine last year. "Nobody could have cared more about the environment than Tom Tyler. You couldn't spend more than five minutes with him without being convinced of his convictions," he said.

Said Larry Walton, Chesapeake Forest Products' Pocomoke Region team leader: "I admired his unique gift of being able to get along with all kinds of people. He was frank and could be tough, and it made no difference to him if he was talking to a CEO or a logger. They were all the same to him."

Mr. Walton said Mr. Tyler "was able to make people meet in the middle and these things became win-win situations for both sides."

Mr. Tyler said in the magazine article that his company was dedicated to being "a first-class operation -- from our loggers, to our roads to getting permits.

"Look, we were environmentally sensitive at Chesapeake a long time before it began to get chic. Because we were already doing it, it flat-out offended me when some of these environmental rules and regulations (regarding forestry practices) came out; and yes, some of it was brought on by the way the damn idiots in our own industry operated."

A descendant of Dorchester countians who have lived on the Lower Eastern Shore for more than 200 years, Mr. Tyler had "lots of passion in him when it came time to talk about rivers and forests," Mr. Horton said.

Mr. Tyler knew scores of farmers, storekeepers and politicians as well as the Shore's best restaurants, which often became the milieu for his animated discussions on the environment and lumbering.

"He was one of those rare people who had the trust of the agriculture, foresters and the environmentalists," Mr. Horton said. "There is nobody that I've met that can really replace him in the full sense of everything that he was doing."

Mr. Tyler was a registered forester and a member of the Maryland Forestry Association, the Society of American Foresters, the American Pulp Wood Association, the Dorchester County Forestry Board, the Maryland State Park Foundation and the Friends of the Nanticoke.

In 1989, he was appointed by then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer to the Governor's Forest Advisory Commission and in 1990 to the Governor's Forest and Tree Task Force. He also was a member of the Southern Pine Bark Beetle Task Force and for the past six years was a member of the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Citizens Review Committee.

He was born in Cambridge, and was a 1959 graduate of North Dorchester High School in Hurlock. He served in the Navy from 1959 to 1963.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Countryside Christian Church, Austin Road, Cambridge.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, the former Virginia Guarino; a son, John E. Tyler; and two daughters, Vicky and Kim Tyler. All are of Vienna.

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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