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Filibert Roth
The Michigan Alumnus 233

The Death of Professor Filibert Roth

Professor of Forestry 1903 to 1923

Prof. Leigh J. Young of Department of Forestry Writes of his Influence in the Profession and on Students

December fourth marked the passing of one
 of Michigan's greatest teachers—Filibert 
Roth. As a teacher, he was as far removed 
from the ordinary type of pedantic pedagogue as a 
man could be. A most thorough knowledge of his
 subject, based upon extensive reading and upon ac
tual contact, in a broad way, with forest conditions 
in this country and abroad, and the ability to pre
sent his subject in a forceful and interesting way 
were combined with an
 ability, which is all too
 rare, to inspire in his stu
dents an enthusiasm for
 work and high ideals in 
living. But he had other
 qualities that increased
 his influence over students
 still more, and that served
 to endear him to men to a
 degree that few teachers
 are privileged to experience. 

These were the qualities
 that enabled Professor
 Roth to treat students as 
human brings rather than 
as puppets or as pawns in 
a game. His main efforts 
were directed at the de
velopment of men, not 
technicians, men with his
 own high principles of
 conduct, his own love for
 work and his own un
bounded faith in the essential goodness of all 
humanity. His interest 
in his "boys" was real and
 extended to their private
 and personal affairs just 
as much as to their academic interests. As a re
sult, every man felt free 
to take his troubles of whatever nature to him; and
 was always assured of a sympathetic hearing, of 
sane advice and most helpful encouragement. 

Professor Roth was born in Wurtemberg, Ger
many, April 20, 1858, the son of a German father 
and a Swiss mother. After an early education in
 German and French schools, he came to America
 and entered the University from which he was grad
uated with the degree in Bachelor of Science in
 1890. Before he completed his college course, how
ever, he became associated with the United States 
Department of Agriculture, giving special attention
 to forestry problems, work which he continued un
til 1898, when he became Assistant Professor of Forestry in Cornell University. He resigned, how
ever in 1901 to take charge of the National Forest
 Reserves, a position he left to become Professor of 
Forestry in the University and Warden of the State
 Forest Reserves. Here he remained until 1923 when 
he retired as Emeritus Professor of Forestry. Pro
fessor Roth was a member of several scientific 
societies, including the American Association for 
the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Am
erican Foresters, and was 
also author of many books 
and articles on his profession. 

Though his greatest
 success was in teaching, 
 his accomplishments were 
by no means limited to 
that field. Entering for
estry work at a time when 
most people in this country had probably never 
heard ever the word, for
estry, he has been associ
ated intimately with the
 development of the move
ment practically from its 
beginning. At all times, 
 his energy, enthusiasm, 
 and faith were thrown, 
 wholeheartedly, into the
 struggle to establish for
estry in the United States
 on a firm and scientific
 basis. When the history
 of American forestry is
 written, his name will
 stand at the top among 
the pioneer leaders who
 have done the most to fur
ther the cause of good for
est practice in this
 country. After coming to
 Michigan, he gave in the 
same unstinted way of his time and energy and personal resources to the work of arousing the State to 
the great need for constructive action, and for
 twenty years has been the leader to whom the State 
has gone for wise counsel and advice in the solution 
of its forest problems. 

The Nation, the State, and the University owe
 him much, and his "boys" owe him the most of all. 
 In losing Filibert Roth, we have lost a great man, a 
great teacher and a great forester, —a wise leader 
and a true friend. 

It was but natural, then, that he became
 "Daddy" Roth to all Michigan foresters and is being
 mourned as such by hundreds of men the world over.

In the death of Professor Roth the forestry profession has lost a pioneer and a leader, the
 University the man who founded the department of 
forestry and in a short period of time made it one
 of the ranking forestry schools of the country, and 
the students who were privileged to study under him
 have lost a wise and sympathetic advisor and a very 
dear friend.

To few men in the classroom is it given to in
spire, as did Professor Roth. And to few professors 
has been accorded the genuine affection and esteem 
given him by his students. His interest in his schol
ars by no means stopped at the classroom. No
 personal matter was too trivial to claim his atten
tion, and his interest in "his boys," as he affection
ately termed all his students, followed them into the
 field and was intimately maintained up to the time
 of his serious illness. The "boys" on their part
 looked upon Professor Roth as a father, affection
ately calling him "Daddy." No gathering of Michigan foresters went by without the forwarding of a
 joint message of good wishes and affection to 
"Daddy" Roth. 

The pride of Michigan foresters in their alma 
mater is a by-word in the profession, and, without 
detracting from the greatness of the University as 
a whole, much of this loyalty is directly attributable 
to Professor Roth himself, who took a just pride in 
the school he founded and built. He moulded his
 students into one big family; every member of which
 feels a personal bereavement in his passing. His
 memory will always be bright with the record of his
 achievements and with the lovable and inspiring 
characteristics, which endeared him to all.