VERMONT— Dr. Edgar William Garbisch Jr., 79, died peacefully in his home in South Woodstock, Vt., with friends and family at his side on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. A quiet man, but with a spirited sense of humor, Ed Garbisch will always be remembered for his trust in humanity, his generosity, and his gifts to science and the natural world.

Born in New York City on Oct. 3, 1932, son of the late Bernice Chrysler and Edgar Garbisch, Ed Jr. grew up both in the city and on the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland. In 1954, he received a B.S. in Chemistry from the university of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After two years as lieutenant JG in the Navy, he went to Northwestern University, where he received a Ph.D. in chemistry, later settling into full professorship at the University of Minnesota.

During his sabbatical year in 1971, Dr. Garbisch rearranged his life. Returning with his family to his childhood home in Maryland, Ed became inspired to pursue the construction of tidal wetlands. Rather than seeing such shoreline regions as useless land to be developed, Ed recognized the wetland’s vital role in the natural world. In 1972, Dr. Garbisch became founder and president of Environmental Concern in St. Michaels. There, he became one of the earliest proponents of a technique of marsh construction fine-tuned over the years known as “nonstructural shoreline control.” Wetlands were reclaimed or created using native plants, propagated in greenhouses at EC. Planting these many grasses produced a living shoreline to protect against erosion, provide habitat for animals, and also serve as a filtering system to help clean the polluted waters. Such work was and continues to be done by Environmental Concern up and down the east coast. Before retiring from EC in 2005, Dr. Garbisch shifted his focus toward the educational side of wetland development, creating materials and programs aimed at everyone from professionals to the general public. The creation and preservation of wetlands is now recognized as a vital component of the global ecology. Planting his first marshgrass, Dr. Garbisch never thought his work would be pioneering. He simply thought it was useful and necessary for the world.

Ed Garbisch is survived by his wife, Joanna Lloyd Garbisch of South Woodstock, Vt.; his sister, Gwynne McDevitt of Newtown Square, Pa.; his first wife, Georgine Morris Garbisch of St. Michaels; his daughter, Josi Fleishman of New York, N.Y.; his son, Leif Garbisch of Ghent, N.Y.; a nephew, Frank Rhodes Jr. of Chestertown; and four grandchildren. A hard worker always, Ed devoted himself first to his chemistry and later to his marsh building. But just under the surface was a growing appreciation for others, and at the end of his life, his love was truly felt by all.

A private memorial will be held at a later date for close friends and family. Donations can be made in Dr. Garbisch’s memory either to the Humane Society of the United States or the Society For Ecological Restoration.

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