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Heiser, Joseph M., Jr. (1897-1987) | University of Houston Libraries

Name: Heiser, Joseph M., Jr. (1897-1987)

Historical Note:

Joseph M. Heiser was passionate about taking care of Mother Earth. He was a native Houstonian. He did not marry and had no children but wonderful nephews. To actualize this conscious obsession of nature, he fulfilled his need and awareness of his empathy for natural forces through joining many organizations about that same purpose becoming full-fledged life members of the Houston Sportsman Club, for example. Beginning from the 1920s he was especially protective of the holly, a slow-growing North American plant used popularly Christmastime in conjunction with the outdoor nature club. He also led movements to fight for the mockingbird as our state bird. Joseph worked to preserve and conserve animals and plants, donating money about this organization and that to fulfill what he was best at doing. In fact, he was so good at being an advocate for nature’s gifts that he was unanimously elected to these executive board positions like in the Texas Nature Conservancy, the Houston Zoological Society, looked upon as a leader in the fight against the destruction of nature by man. In other words his Joseph and his companions were allies striving for nature to be top or the first priority on the list for any project man wants to undertake. He is credited with coming up with the idea of the Outdoor Nature Club started with the help and support of a head librarian, who was important with starting the club publication of the Zephyr, where the organization had a strong role in the preservation of the Little Thicket Sanctuary and Vingtune Island both in East Texas. He also founded the Nature Conservancy; largely Joseph was an innovator and creator of various nature organizations. The world is thankful to have a dedicated man looking after Mother Nature. What would Joseph do in our present ecological crisis with global warming? He would automatically support hybrid cars and movements to try to get America, the largest national polluter on the planet, on some conscious and congressional plan.  On Vingtune Island, the group found the spoonbill, a very rare bird known for its bright-colored feathers. Such a bird and its habitat are under the protective eyes of the National Audubon Society.

Aside from Joseph’s dedicated work in nature, his  background includes fighting as a soldier in the two world wars. He was an accountant, a comptroller [secretary to the president] to the Texaco company for over 40 years; his nature care was a dedicated hobby on the side. Joseph was “a great friend to nature and to man.” He died of complications from throat cancer at the age of 89.

Note Author: Teresa (Terry) Tomkins-Walsh, Ph.D.

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