It was a bitter-sweet day last Tuesday when we gathered downstairs here in the CASIC Building for the retirement celebration of our director, Dr. Sam Fowler.
The sweet part – after 39 years of service to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, the AU Water Resources Center and the citizens of Alabama – he is most deserving of a long, enjoyable retirement!
The bitter part – we, the AWW staff, will really, really, really miss his presence and his leadership! Among the several speakers that got up and spoke about their experiences with Dr. Fowler, the one that sticks in my mind was Eve Brantley. Eve asked AWW staffers for an adjective that comes to mind when they think of Dr. Fowler. They were all good of course, and all spot-on: GENEROUS, EVEN-KEELED, A TRUE GENTLEMAN, AWESOME!
Other words that stuck in my mind were those of AU College of Ag Associate Dean, Dr. Patterson recounting the numerous major achievements of Dr. Fowler’s career: Director of the Auburn University Water Resources Center since 2008; also serves as Director of the Alabama Water Resources Research Institute and as the point of contact with EPA Region 4 for the Auburn University Center of Excellence in Watershed Management; formerly served as Director of AU Environmental Institute and Natural Heritage Program, and as Director of AU Cooperative Environmental Studies Unit; prior to accepting those assignments he worked for 32 years in various positions within the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and retired as the Associate Director; is a tenured faculty within the Agricultural Economics Department at Auburn University and has taught graduate courses in Extension Programs and Methods; has managed and directed over $30 million dollars of research activities at Auburn University, and has co-authored numerous research publications; also serves as a leader of the Alabama Irrigation Initiative, and was instrumental in getting the recent Alabama irrigation income tax incentive for farmers; currently serves as the president of the Alabama Section of the American Water Resources Association, and serves on the Board of Directors of Global Water Watch. – WOW!
As well as the many accolades from Dr. Lemme, Director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, on how Dr. Fowler was not only an outstanding professor, but had the rare quality and passion for extending scientific advancements made by Auburn to farmers, landowners, foresters, and others throughout Alabama in highly effective and efficient ways.
There were so many endearing comments – it became overwhelmingly apparent that anyone who’d had the privilege of working with this man grew to admire and appreciate him, as we here at AWW have.
The last scheduled speaker, Dick Bronson, founder and long-time president of Lake Watch of Lake Martin added one more accolade that was especially endearing to us – the fact that when AWW was in dire straits and ‘swirling the bowl’ a few years back, it was Dr. Fowler who stepped up, along with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service and the Alabama Agricultural Extension Station and worked with Dr. Deutsch to establish a secure home for AWW with Dr. Fowler in the AU Water Resources Center. For that, Dick and the AWW staff are inexpressibly grateful. I ask that you remember this the next time you take a cool, refreshing dip at your favorite swimming hole or when you’re floating down a beautiful rippling stream, smile and whisper ‘thank you Sam Fowler’!
Ps. if you’re wondering about getting ahold of him, here’s his new business card: