The birding community lost another legend this past winter with the passing of long-time Indiana Audubon member, Russell Mumford, 99, on January 26, 2022.
If Amos Butler is the grandfather of Indiana ornithology then R.E. Mumford must surely be the father. Russell E. Mumford was born 26 May 1922 in Casey, Illinois. Young Russell’s interest in birds was encouraged by his parents and later by inspiration provided by professors Irving W. Burr and Charles M. Kirkpatrick. Perhaps more than any single individual, Dr. Mumford influenced the contemporary face of Indiana ornithology. His professional career was spent at Purdue University where his research and guidance of graduate students played a central role in the state’s ornithology for almost three decades.
Russell Mumford’s career began as summer naturalist in the Indiana State Parks system in 1947; over the ensuing years he rose to become a research biologist with the Indiana Division of Fish and Game. His degrees include a BSF in Forestry (1948), a master of science in wildlife (1952), and a PhD in vertebrate ecology (1961). Indeed, he received the first Ph.D. in wildlife awarded at Purdue University. Beginning in 1961, professor Mumford taught courses ranging from Ichthyology to Mammalogy for almost three decades. He retired from Purdue in 1988. During his tenure at Purdue University Russ Mumford conducted avian research in each of Indiana’s 92 counties, published more than 110 bird related articles, papers, and books, and prepared some 1030 bird specimens.
Dr. Mumford’s seminal contribution to Indiana ornithology involved the 1984 publication of The Birds of Indiana, in which he was the first author. This volume, which included some 390 species, provided the first comprehensive summary of the state’s avifauna since Butler’s 1898 publication. He also served with the Indiana Audubon as Vice-President and President. Together with Charles Keller, Mumford’s name lives on as part of Indiana Audubon’s mission to support bird research, conservation, and education via the Mumford & Keller Grants and Scholarship Program.
If you’d like to make a donation, or support the Mumford & Keller Grants and Scholarship Program, visit Here.
Mumford is survived by his sister Carolyn Jane Deprapt of Danville, Illinois; his wife, Vivian (nee Tate), whom he married in 1947; and his children, James Lee Mumford (Newburgh, Indiana), Jean Lynne Lesley (Lafayette, Indiana) and Russell Eugene Mumford, Jr. (West Lafayette, Indiana).
Learn more about the professional work Dr. Mumford did on the Purdue Tribute Page.