SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Robert L. Townsend Jr., 77, passed away Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., after a brief illness followed by Covid-19. He was born March 29, 1943 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the son of R. Lewis and Amelia (Sheldon) Townsend. He spent many years in the Boy Scouts, both attending and then working at Scout Camp. He was proud to have become an Eagle Scout in 1959 and also attended a National Scout Jamboree. He graduated from Arlington High School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in 1961, followed by receiving a B.A. from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. in 1965.
On June 18, 1966 he married his high school sweetheart, Patricia Ann Stowe, in Poughquag, N.Y. They celebrated 54 wonderful years of marriage.
He served in the United States Air Force from 1967 to 1971, with a tour of duty in Ban Me Thout, Vietnam, and achieving the rank of Captain. Realizing he would like to work in forestry and natural resources, he applied to the University of Massachusetts and received his M.S. in forestry in 1974. During this time, he also worked with the University Year for Action in Massachusetts.
His first job in natural resources brought him to the University of Vermont Extension Service in 1974 as a community resource development specialist covering Windsor and Windham counties, and there he stayed until his retirement in 2000. He always enjoyed the people and variety of the job, taking the research of the university out to the towns. Over the years, he worked not only in natural resource management, but also rural leadership and local government training, public policy education, small business education, tourism, and recreation.
In 1982, he saw a need to bring information available at UVM to the growing tourism industry and started the first Vermont Travel Industry Conference in southern Vermont. The next year his committee oversaw a statewide conference which is now incorporated and still going on each year. In 1992 he was honored to be named the Vermont Travel Person of the Year, honoring his foresight in organizing the conference and his continuing work on the board and education committee. He continued on to Farm or Agri-Tourism and helped organize many farms to open their doors to visitors. He received many awards for his UVM Extension work, including from other cooperating agencies, Soil Conservation and Natural Resources. He was also active with the Windsor County Agricultural Fair and started the Lumberjack Roundup contest for young people to compete.
After his retirement from UVM Ext. in 2000, he worked part-time for Huffer Forestry Associates and enjoyed this time spent with consulting foresters. He also planned and supervised the building of his dream retirement home where he was able to manage his own forestland. Building a sugarhouse was also in those plans and it became a Townsend Family sugaring operation with everyone helping and learning.
Most important always was his family. From camping trips, hunting, and cross country skiing to a mini-farm with animals, poultry, and making maple syrup, there were always activities to do with his young family and most involved the outdoors which he loved so much. Shortly before retirement, he found a camp on a lake to share with friends and family and it became a favorite of children and all the grandchildren.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by son Jamie of Springfield and his four sons James, Milo, Cabot, and Sparrow; and daughter Paula of Woodstock and her son Eli. He loved being a part of the grandchildren’s lives and thoroughly enjoyed watching the ages and stages of each one. He made activities to do with them and always enjoyed their company. He is also survived by many wonderful cousins with whom he shared lots of genealogy research.
Arrangements are being made through the Davis Memorial Chapel in Springfield, Vt. A memorial service and celebration of Bob’s life will be held in the spring or summer when we can all get together. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Congregational Church, 77 Main St., Springfield, VT 05156.