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In Memoriam: Greg Killinger (’94 M.S.)


Greg Killinger Greg Killinger

Feb. 15, 2015 – Greg Killinger (’94 M.S. fisheries and wildlife sciences) died of a heart attack while hiking in Sitka, Alaska, on May 25, 2014. Killinger, 52, is survived by his wife, Lisa Petro, and numerous friends and colleagues.

A native of Oregon, Killinger earned his bachelor’s from Oregon State and then spent the summer of 1983 volunteering in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, where he worked in fisheries and surveying streams. He fell in love with the region and spent the remainder of his life in the nearby town of Sitka. He worked in multiple Forest Service positions over more than three decades, including as a biological technician for the Forestry Sciences Lab and Sitka Ranger District, the Sitka District fisheries biologist, and the fish, wildlife, watershed, ecology, and subsistence staff officer for the Tongass National Forest.

Throughout his career, Killinger worked on everything from conserving the national forest to the restoration of watersheds and salmon habitats in the area. He did not just embrace the Alaskan wilderness in his work life — he loved all involvement with the natural world and the creatures within it, and spent as much of his time outdoors as possible. Killinger was an avid fisherman, hunter, and outdoorsman who had no shortage of stories about his exploits. His did everything from relaxing hikes and early morning fishing trips to extreme solo hunts in the wilderness. On these occasions, he pursued his goal with dogged determination. On one hunt, he found himself without water for days in the mountains, refusing to end his trek until he was successful.

Killinger’s colleagues report that he brought this same quiet determination and love of the outdoors to the workplace. He gamely accepted challenging projects and rarely took full credit for his successes, preferring to share the praise with others. “There’s an ethic among conservationists that it’s your responsibility to leave the place better than you found it. And for me, Greg exemplified that more than anybody,” said Andrew Thoms, director of the Sitka Conservation Society, with which Greg worked very closely on a number of issues and projects.

Professor Andy Dolloff, Killinger’s advisor at Virginia Tech, gives perhaps the best summation of Greg’s life: “For more than 30 years, it was a pleasure to watch Greg become an accomplished professional, rising from journey-level biologist to senior manager on the Tongass, our largest national forest. Generous with things, ideas, and his time, Greg usually was among the first to volunteer, whatever the need. He loved everything Alaskan, where his love of and respect for wild things and places filled nearly all of his professional and personal life. In addition to being an accomplished outdoorsman, Greg was a thoughtful scholar. He received the Best Poster Award at the 1989 American Fisheries Society meeting for work that formed the basis for his master’s thesis. He was my student, my colleague, and my friend. I miss him greatly.”

The article drew from the following articles honoring the life and legacy of Greg Killinger:


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