Citizens Park memorial service to honor Barrington-area conservation leader
Thomas Waid Vanderpoel was known in the Barrington area for continuing his father's work with Citizens for Conservation, a nonprofit that's preserved thousands of acres of natural habitat.
Vanderpoel, 66, who died at his Barrington home last week, will be celebrated at an outdoor memorial service in the village's Citizens Park at 10 a.m. Aug. 28. He was a longtime board member and restoration director for the Lake Barrington-based group.
Barrington-area naturalist Wendy Paulson, who leads the group's bird walks, said Vanderpoel was a "conservation luminary."
"I've never known anyone from whom I've learned so much, nor found so inspiring and motivating," Paulson said in a statement. "His impact on landscapes, the community and individuals is nothing short of extraordinary. While his work focused on the Barrington area, his influence on conservation and restoration extended far beyond."
Lake Barrington Village President Kevin Richardson also reflected on the work of Vanderpoel, who was a landscape and ecological management professional.
Richardson said the preservation of about 30 acres of critical habitat along Flint Creek, at the northwest corner of Northwest Highway and Cuba Road, was a result of Vanderpoel's "farsighted vision."
Lake Barrington purchased what commonly was called the Gibbs property for conservation purposes and struck a deal in 2009 allowing the organization to buy a portion of the land over time. Richardson said the preservation and restoration of mature oak savannas, flood plain, flora and fauna became one of the village's most significant projects.
"Tom leaves a remarkable legacy that will benefit future generations who live in our community," Richardson said. "His commitment to conservation, habitat restoration and biodiversity is one of the many reasons that the village of Lake Barrington is as beautiful, green and serene as it is today."
Vanderpoel's late father, Waid, helped to lead Citizens for Conservation, which operated under a different name when the village of Barrington started the group in 1971.
Vanderpoel voiced his excitement about Citizens for Conservation in a Daily Herald interview in March. "We're thinking long term here. We can restore this, and we're having great success, but it needs to be in perpetuity," he said. "To do that, it has to be so ingrained in us that we (carry on the mission) generation after generation."
Survivors include his wife, Gail. His father was considered one of the suburbs' premier conservationists when he died at 81 in 2003.
Citizens for Conservation, which is run by volunteers aside from one paid employee, owns and manages 12 preserves totaling 439 acres and collaborates with dozens of organizations to acquire and maintain additional land.