Breaking News
More () »

Celebration of life for Gerry Rising

The renowned writer and environmentalist left behind a rich legacy.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — How do we weigh a man's life? 

Some say it's through wealth or fame, but that seems rather superficial. Perhaps the truest measure of a man is the legacy he leaves. Gerry Rising, scholar, author, and environmentalist, left the earth this past December, but the gifts he shared in life will continue for generations to come. Sally Cunningham, Horticulturist, and author, describes his character. 

"Gerry was the most gracious, modest educator, with the most power of people one would ever meet."

Nancy Smith is Senior Advisor for the WNY Land Conservancy. She recalls that Rising was always there for the Conservancy. "He was incredibly generous with sharing knowledge, and that is what I think that I saw woven through all of my interactions with him."

Credit: Mike Noonan
Rising's knowledge and generosity will be an inspiration to future generations.

Gerry had a long career as a math teacher and educator, but his biggest influence was in the WNY environmental community. He wrote a weekly column, "Nature Watch ", in the Buffalo News for almost 30 years, and authored several books as well. David O'Donnell is a founder of Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm and a close friend of Gerry's. He describes the influence of Rising's writings. 

"It was just something that people looked forward to, getting to the nature page and seeing what's in there this week. And it really brought a lot of attention to a lot of diversity around Western NY that people never realized."

But like the wind through the trees, Gerry's message went well beyond that medium. His gentle and informed way of teaching brought people to a reconnection with Nature, growing roots that continue to spread. Jay Burney of the Pollinator Conservation Society and Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve. He knew him well, having been Gerry's friend for five decades.

"He talked about people, and people's connection to Nature. So it wasn't just, let's talk about the Field Mouse, let's talk about the group That I was out observing these experiences with."

"He was, and is, and will be, an influencer for a long, long time, to reach out to people who are now losing touch with Nature," Cunningham says.

Credit: David O'Donnell
Gerry Rising 1927-2022

He continued to pursue his mission well into his nineties. The example he set will never be forgotten, and the many people he touched will hold him in their hearts forever. "Western New York is a better place because of Gerry Rising." Smith believes.

"In terms of the conservation community, the natural community, and even the scientific community, he was a connector, he brought a lot of us together," Burney says. 

O'Donnell sums up a life truly well lived. "He was a great man, who I would say died while living."

A celebration of life will be held for Gerry Rising on January 23 at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo.

Before You Leave, Check This Out