Dr. A. D. Folweiler

Dr. A. D. Folweiler: Texas’ Fourth State Foresters (1949 – 1967)

Dr. Albert D. Folweiler was hired as TFS Director and the fourth state forester on January 1, 1949 following resignation of W. E. White and brief service by two interim directors. Dr. Folweiler was born on September 4, 1902 in Pennsylvania and received a BS degree in forestry from Pennsylvania State University in 1925, followed by a Master’s from Yale and a PhD in forestry from the University of Wisconsin. He is the only TFS director to date to hold a doctorate degree. Before coming to Texas, he worked with the US Forest Service and several state forestry organizations in Arizona, New Jersey, and North Carolina. In 1931, Folweiler was made assistant state forester in Florida in charge of information and education. When the Civilian Conservation Corps became operational, he supervised forestry work for camps whose enrollees worked on private lands. In 1934, he joined the forestry faculty at Louisiana State University. As a professor at LSU, Dr. Folweiler wrote the widely-used textbook Forest Fire in the United States. Folweiler took leave from LSU to serve in World War II as an officer in charge of timber procurement with the Corps of Engineers attached to General George Patton’s Third Army. Following military service, he supervised forestry operations for International Paper Company on its lands west of the Mississippi River. During this period, he aided in formation of the Louisiana Forestry Association, younger sister to TFA formed some thirty-five years earlier. In summary, the Texas A&M Board of Directors selected a professional forester with impressive credentials to lead the Texas Forest Service for the next eighteen years. One can’t help but believe his experience as a member of General Patton’s staff shaped Dr. Folweiler’s organizational skills more so than any other previous job and largely dictated how he would administer TFS as state forester. His military style of management and demand that employees strictly adhere to policy ruffled feathers among many TFS employees who served under him. This controversial leader intimidated many employees, some of whom left for other jobs rather than endure his behavior. “When you knew Folweiler was entering the building you were quick to find the back door,” related retired forester Ed Barron in a recent interview. But most subordinates would later admit his no-nonsense approach to administration and establishment of standardized policies and procedures were what the developing forestry agency most needed at the time. “He did a lot of good things,” Barron admitted. TFS achieved an outstanding record in forest fire prevention and control under Dr. Folweiler’s guidance. The fire control training room at Cudlipp Forestry Center now bears his name in tribute. He was a significant force in starting the Western Gulf Tree Improvement Program and the West Texas Windbreak Program. To help address unprecedented southern pine beetle outbreaks, he was instrumental in creating both the TFS Forest Pest Control Section and Southern Forest Research Institute to conduct SPB research, and the Forest Pest Control Law to more effectively treat beetle infestations with the latest available technology. He was a member and strong supporter of the Texas Forestry Association. Dr. Folweiler was active in the Society of American Foresters (SAF), serving as secretary-treasurer, vice chairman, and chairman of the Gulf States Chapter. He received the Distinguished Service to Forestry Award and was elected a SAF Fellow, both in 1963. He also served as president of the National Association of State Foresters. Dr. Folweiler retired on August 31, 1967 and was named “director emeritus” by the TAMU Board of Directors the following year. He died at the age of eighty three on February 7, 1986. Nineteen years later (2005), he was inducted into the Texas Forestry Hall of Fame.