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Noble Proctor 1942- 2015

Fern Davies

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Noble S. Proctor Ph.D., 73, of Branford, CT, died on May 28. He was born April 10, 1942 in Derby, CT to Alfred Proctor and Ruth Baldwin Proctor. He grew up in Ansonia where he roamed the valley, initiating his lifelong love for natural history. 


Students of ornithology no doubt have a copy of his Manual of Ornithology: Avian Structure and Function (co-authored by Patrick J.






After his Army years and before starting college, he was employed by Yale University to collect materials for protein and DNA studies for taxonomy of bird classification. He received his B.A & M.S. at Southern Connecticut State University and his Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut.


He was a professor of biology for 34 years at Southern Connecticut State University, teaching courses in ornithology, botany, and biogeography. He was also a wildlife photographer and has written & co-authored 10 books on birds and wildlife. For over 40 years, he led wildlife tours throughout the world, visiting 90 countries. 23 safaris to East Africa; 22 springs were spent in Costa Rica and 23 trips were made to Alaska where, for 14 years in a row, he spent up to five weeks on Attu Island in search for birds that wandered to U.S. shores from Siberia. He was among a group of scientists conducting avian field research in the Soviet Union for the U.S. Forest Service and spoke at the United Nations concerning the state of the environment on a world wide scale along with Jane Goodall.


An ornithologist all of his life, he amassed a lifelong birding list of over 6,000 species worldwide, 814 species in North America and his most prized list of finding 512 species of North American bird nests. Noble worked with his close friend, artist, author, photographer Roger Tory Peterson during his revision of the Eastern Field Guide to Birds. He was among the founding members establishing the Roger Tory Peterson Institute for Natural History in Jamestown, NY. His organizational memberships include; the American Ornithologists' Union, The American Birding Society, CT Botanical Society, CT Butter Fly Association, and member of the New Haven Bird Club for 46 years. His many awards include; Outstanding Professor of the Year (SCSU), Connecticut Environmentalist Award, Outstanding Conservationist Award from the CT Botanical Society, CT Ornithological Association Mabel Osgood Wright Award in 2002 and in 2013 the American Birding Association's Roger Tory Peterson Award. He is survived by his wife Carolyn George Proctor of 43 years, his sons Adam Proctor (Courtney) of Nebraska, Eric Proctor (Amy) of New Hampshire, and his grandchildren Braxton and Alexis Proctor. He is also survived by his dear friend and longtime field companion Margaret Ardwin, his brother Alfred Proctor Jr., his many loving members of the George family and nieces and nephews. 



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The June 2015 Birding Community E-bulletin provided this remembrance:


Starting to watch birds at the age of five, Noble Proctor never looked back. Following his graduation from high school, Noble spent several years working in construction to cover the expenses of his developing photographic career and the cost of cross-country Greyhound bus tickets that allowed him to see North America the least expensive way possible in the 1960s. Eventually, Noble went on to receive degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut, where he earned his Ph.D.

As a professor at Southern Connecticut State University for over three decades, Noble touched the lives and educated literally thousands of students in the fields of biology, ornithology, botany, mycology, and natural history. An accomplished photographer and author of numerous publications, his books include the widely acclaimed Manual of Ornithology (with P. J. Lynch, 1993), A Field Guide to North Atlantic Wildlife (with P.J. Lynch, 2005), and A Field Guide to the Southeast Coast & Gulf of Mexico (with P.J. Lynch, 2011).  Noble also made significant contributions to the successful completion of the classic 5th edition of the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds.

For over 30 years, Noble was a much sought-after tour leader, and throughout his career he took groups of birders to over 65 different countries.  At the "edge" of the ABA (American Birding Association) Area, Noble helped "discover" Attu Island, at the end of the Aleutian Chain of islands, as a birdable and extraordinarily exciting birding destination.

Noble's long list of personal awards and recognition achievements are too numerous to list in this short space, but suffice it to say all were justifiably earned and attained.

His charismatic personality, irrepressible sense of humor, remarkable field skills, and his exceptional ability to share his knowledge of field natural history were legend. In many ways, his life can best be summarized by a quote from Gandi that for many years had a prominent place on his desk: "Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever."

Noble Proctor passed away in late May. He was 73.

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