In the early morning of April 15, 2016 Bruce Sundquist died quietly in his bed at the age of 79, a fitting end for a modest and peaceful man.
Immediately after obtaining his Ph.D from Illinois Inst. of Technology in 1960 Bruce Sundquist accepted a job at U.S. Steel’s research laboratry in Monroeville, PA. The young man from Minnesota soon enjoyed hiking in the Appalachian mountains and when he joined the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy he began a long career of voluntary conservationism. When the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club was formed in 1970 Bruce was one of its first members, becoming a regular outings leader and eventually chair of the Outings Committee. In the late 70s he joined Sam Hays and Dick Pratt as they explored areas on Allegheny National Forest for potential inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, leading to designation of the Hickory Creek Wilderness Area in 1984. In West Virginia he was a regular visitor to the Dolly Sods area, working towards designation of that unique spot as a federal wilderness area in 1975.
To help the public enjoy and protect the natural areas around Pittsburgh, Bruce began the production of guides, first with the American Youth Hostels of Pittsburgh, and then with the Allegheny Group and the Keystone Trails Association. He organized volunteers to scout and map the trail systems in various areas and over a period of thirty years he authored or co-authored a series of guides. He started in 1974 with “Allegheny National Forest Hiking Guide”, followed by “Hiker’s Guide to Laurel Highlands Trail”, “Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide”, “Ski-Touring in Western Pennsylvania”, “Hiking Guide to Western Pennsylvania”, “Canoeing Guide to Western Pennsylvania”, and “Laurel Highlands Hiking Guide (sixth edition Part 2, 2004).
Initially Bruce printed the guides using a mimeographing machine in his basement. And that same machine he used to print the early editions of the Allegheny Group’s newsletter. His home was a combination office and storehouse.
Bruce was a year-round outdoorsman. For many years he lead the annual January cross-country skiing trip to West Virginia, and he introduced to Sierra Club members the joy of tube floating on the Youghiogheny.
When he retired from Westinghouse’s Blairsville lab in 1991 Bruce was able to devote more of his scientific training to the topic that had attracted his interested in the mid-eighties – the Earth’s carrying capacity. The scope of this interest is reflected in the list of his writings at the Website he created. Not only did he cover the topics of the degradation of soils and crop lands, forests, gaming lands and fisheries, but he did research on globalization and Third World issues. Population growth was a major concern, and as recently as 2008 he wrote a paper titled “Could Family Planning Cure Terrorism”.
In addition to a long tenure as chair of the Allegheny Group’s Outings program, Bruce was for some years chair of the Conservation Committee and in 1995 and 1996 he was Group Chair.
It is not often that a person like Bruce Sundquist comes along, but when they do, the world is better for it.
Peter J. Wray