New tree planted in memory of forestry faculty member


Joyce Wray kisses a hand-written note to her husband that is to be planted with the tree in remembrance of him on April 26. Paul Wray was a forestry extension faculty member that planted many trees and taught people across Iowa about planting. The tree planted in memory of him was a Bur Oak which was his favorite tree.

Megan Behrends

In memory and celebration of Arbor Day, a bur oak tree was planted west of the campanile on Central Campus honoring the late professor Paul Wray. 

At the memorial, Steven Jungst, professor emeritus for natural resource ecology and management, said the ceremony was fitting to honor Wray.

Jungst said Wray loved to demonstrate how to properly plant trees and worked alongside many people as they managed their own forestry projects.

“Paul loved to plant trees and it’s appropriate to plant his favorite tree, the bur oak, on Arbor Day in his honor,” Jungst said.

Joe Colletti, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, also said a few words about the impression Wray made in his life as a fellow colleague.  

“[Wray] had a great impact on many people through many decades and this tree is a tribute to his legacy,” Colletti said. 

The influence Wray left on the Department of Forestry and those around him was evident as many friends and family members were in attendance at the memorial. The Iowa State Forestry Club dug the hole for the tree to be planted and friends were encouraged to write a note to Wray and bury it alongside the tree.

Jan Thompson, Morrill Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, said Wray did all the outreach throughout the state of Iowa related to trees and forestry for 34 years.

“Wray was a mentor to almost every forester in Iowa,” Thompson said.

Thompson said how Wray helped start the forestry club by getting their Christmas tree plantation up and running for their annual fundraiser.

“This tree is a symbol representing all of the work he did in caring for trees,” Thompson said.