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Plair legacy will live on through Illahee Tree Farm Endowment

To help Mississippians realize the full range of benefits available from their natural resource, Theodore and Katherine Plair of Walnut Creek, Calif., established a charitable remainder trust naming the MSU Foundation Inc. beneficiary. The gift will provide financial support for the College of Forest Resources to ensure a margin of excellence in teaching, research and service. Proceeds of the $250,000 gift established the Illahee Tree Farm Endowment for the CFR. The assets for the endowment were derived from the wise management and stewardship of a 760-acre tree farm owned by the Plairs in Washington County, Ore. Known as The Illahee Tree Farm, the property is named for a Chinook Indian word meaning "beautiful country." "Mr. and Mrs. Plair had a strong desire to assist our college in its focus and commitment to comprehensive teaching, research and service programs in forestry, forest products and wildlife and fisheries," said Interim Dean Bob Karr. "This new endowment, in their memory, will help take us to the next level of excellence." According to Keith Gaskin, CFR director of development, the earnings from the endowment will be used to meet the priority needs of the college. "These types of planned gifts can transform a good program into a national leader," Gaskin said. "This generous gift will have a major impact on our students and faculty." Open for use in all three departments, the Plairs stipulated that the dean can direct the funds to be used for student enhancement, professional renewal and recognition of faculty, equipment upgrades or other opportunities to improve the quality of programs in the college. Mr. and Mrs. Plair also wanted the gift to be used as challenge for other individuals or forest-based industries to match their support for the betterment of the CFR. Ted Plair was born in Jackson and graduated from high school in Philadelphia in 1925. He graduated from MSU in 1929 with a general science degree. He was encouraged by his professors to study forestry and transferred to the University of California School of Forestry at Berkeley where he completed requirements for both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in forestry. He received a fellowship for advanced study in forest land economics, which he completed in 1932 and 1933. Plair worked seasonally on field studies for the U.S. Forest Service Experiment Station at Berkeley during his fellowship. Following its completion, he was employed by the National Park Service as a forester for the western division headquartered in Berkeley. In 1935, he transferred to the USDA Soil Conservation Service as regional forester for the Pacific Southwest. At the time of his retirement, he was the head woodland conservationist. During his tenure, he received the Superior Service Award for Soil Conservation Service by the Secretary of Agriculture. He was cited for unusually effective leadership in developing the concept of soil forest site relationship from a theory to an accepted and widely used procedure with profound effects on forestry and soil science. Plair died in 1998 at the age of 93. Mrs. Plair died in January 2003 at the age of 94. They are survived by their daughter Gaynl Keefe.



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