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Alfred Eipper ’43

Al was born in Massachusetts, and went to school in Deerfield, where he met Molly, who would become his wife. After studying at Harvard University, he transferred to Reed, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

During World War II, he served in the Coast Guard, stationed in Astoria, Oregon; Ketchikan, Alaska; and Staten Island, New York. In 1945, he was ordered to leave the Brooklyn Navy Yard on a destroyer escort, destined for Pearl Harbor.  In the Pacific, they learned that they were to be the “antennae” of a naval invasion of Japan, radioing back information to the fleet until they were sunk. This plan was aborted because of Japan’s surrender following the bombing of  Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After World War II, Al got a master’s in wildlife conservation from the University of Maine. In 1953, he was awarded a PhD in fishery biology from Cornell University, where for 23 years he was a professor of biology, teaching graduate students and conducting research on trout pond and warm-water fisheries management. He authored 25 technical papers and was a contributing author of 4 books on fisheries, environmental problems, and natural resources polity. In the mid-60s, a nuclear power plant, which would use cold lake water for cooling its reactors, was proposed on Cayuga Lake near Ithaca. Al was a leader in assessing and educating the public about the potential harmful effects on the lake of this planned warm-water discharge. Due in large part to his work, the plant’s operating license was ultimately denied.

In 1975, Al, Molly, and their three children moved to Harvard, Massachusetts, where he was the power plant activities leader of the northeast region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, coordinating impact assessments and recommendations for power plant operations in the mid-Atlantic and northeast region. When he retired in 1980, he and Molly built a home on the Damariscotta River in Maine. Their life there included a love of the outdoors, camping, and cross-country skiing. Al lectured extensively on the dangers of unchecked population growth, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. They were active in founding CONA (Citizens Opposed to Nuclear Arms). In 2000, they moved to the Easthampton Lathrop Community in Massachusetts, where Al continued to be involved in the interrelated problems of population growth and climate change. He was active in forming the Green Committee to educate Lathrop residents about climate change and facilitate their adoption of energy conservation measures. Following a long illness, Molly died in 2006. During his last 10 years, Al developed progressive orthopedic problems, causing decreased mobility.  He was remarkable in his grace, equanimity, and consistently positive outlook as he adapted resourcefully to increasing physical limitations. Al is survived by his daughter, Margo Guertin, and sons, Steve Eipper and Eric Eipper.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2017

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