Martin Pioneer J. L. Wade Has Passed Away

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Kent Justus
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2003 5:59 pm
Location: Arkansas/Mount Vernon

Dear Forum Readers,

Below is a note I just received from Karen Martin of the Nature Society News concerning the passing of martin pioneer J. L. Wade. Mr. Wade was in his 90s and is the single person who started the revolution of improvements to martin housing and raised awareness of the plight of Purple Martins more than anyone else has. We have lost a great champion of Purple Martins.

"J.L. Wade died Saturday, June 9, at 2 a.m. in the Scottsdale Health Care
Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. His funeral will be held at 2 p.m. on
Saturday, June 16, in the Airsman-Hires Funeral Home in Griggsville.
Burial will be in the Griggsville Cemetary. Visitation will be from 11
a.m. until time of services on Saturday. J.L. Wade, pioneered the
aluminum martin housing industry, founded Nature House Inc. and the
Nature Society, but most importantly brought international attention to
the plight of the near-endangered purple martin, bringing the species to
the status of "America's most wanted bird". We join his daughter, Susan,
and family in mourning the loss of J.L. Wade.

Karen E. Martin, editor
Nature Society News"
Donna - TX
Posts: 889
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:44 pm
Location: Texas/Pearland

The Purple Martins gained so much from him. My condolences to the Family of this Great Man.
Kelly Applegate~MN
Posts: 291
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2003 12:54 pm
Location: Princeton, Minnesota

He leaves behind a legacy that we all can appreciate. I know of several areas that would be martinless if it were not for trio houses supporting the population. One prime example for us Minnesotans is the city of Avon. There, for the past 20 years, the martin population remains high because of 14 trio m12-k's that were placed in the city parks. My condolences go out to the family.
Donna - TX
Posts: 889
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:44 pm
Location: Texas/Pearland

Great story Kelly, I bet a lot of people have stories about how he has helped the martins. Wouldn't you love to hear them.

The trio was my first martin house.
Martin man RI
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 7:04 pm
Location: MA/RI area

I dont think J.L. wade will ever be forgotten He started a empire with the
trio houses and they still will live on for generations. My first house the trio
and it still is home to martins after 14 years. My condolences to his family
T Seber
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 10:23 am
Location: Tennessee/Liberty

He may well have done more for the purple martin than any other man who ever lived. Yes, it is true that he is responsible for some bad ideas, false doctrines, martin misconceptions, etc. But, it is also true that he called attention to purple martins as no one else has. It is true as well that he produced an affordable purple martin house that was far ahead of it's time.

We have learned more now, and perhaps he never adjusted his beliefs to reflect modern understandings. I have heard people say very disparaging and hateful things about this man and his way of doing martins. When the dust has settled, he still is due his proper place as a martin man indeed. My hat is off to him and my prayers are for his family. The martins have lost a friend.
Last edited by T Seber on Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
T. Seber
John Barrow
Posts: 953
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

Hi Friends,

I echo the sentiments of those who have posted before me and share my condolences with Mr. Wade's family. He was truly a legend in his time. The martins are in a much better place today because of his efforts. Thank you Mr. Wade. May you rest in peace. May your spirit soar among the martins. May God bless your loved ones.

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
Matt F.
Posts: 3915
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Kent Justus wrote:We have lost a great champion of Purple Martins.
So true Kent.

He was a true champion of the Purple Martin.

Between him, and ornithologist T.E. Musselman, who worked closely with Mr. Wade and was integral in development many of the management friendly features that are incorporated in many Martin house systems today (and who is credited with originating the bluebird trail concept), they did so much to not only improve the standards for which all Martin housing would be measured, but also greatly raised the general public's level of awareness of Purple Martins, and Martin management and conservation, to a point that had never been seen before.

A great man indeed.
Last edited by Matt F. on Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

I believe that (though not practical in reality) every one that has ever enjoyed or wanted to enjoy hosting purple martins should lower their martin houses to half mast in their hearts.

Few of us will ever have the opportunity to impact an entire species like J.L. did. However, we are all part of his legacy through the efforts that we collectively put forth.

Bravo, J.L.!

Kent Justus
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2003 5:59 pm
Location: Arkansas/Mount Vernon

I would like to join the others in paying tribute to J. L. Wade. Back in 1978 I was 15 years old and had asked my dad for a martin house. I had been fascinated watching martins swoop up to roost in my aunt's wooden martin house. My dad went to our local hardware store and purchased a Trio M6K house with 6-holes. As I opened the box to start assembling the house I noticed that the packing material was sheets of The Nature Society News. I had no idea that the News existed. I carefully unfolded the crumpled pages and started reading articles from members about how their martin season was going! I was fascinated by this. On one of the pages was an article and photo of John Holbrook's colony in Georgia and his "forest of gourds." At the end of the article was Mr. Holbrook's address. In central Arkansas you almost never see gourds used for martins. I wrote to him asking how I might obtain some gourd seeds. Within a couple of weeks a huge box arrived at my parent's home with my name on it. I opened the box and there were 12 very large and beautiful natural gourds, a large box of seeds, and a kind letter from John and Gertrude Holbrook. Those pages of the Nature Society News allowed me to meet and form a friendship with the man who became my martin mentor.

I cannot think of another single individual who is even in the league with Mr. Wade as far as raising awareness of Purple Martins and their needs. If it weren't for his efforts we might well still be using wooden martin houses with 2-1/2" holes. I remember looking in the World Book encyclopedia and that was the recommended entrance size for martins, which we now know is larger than necessary. Mr. Wade started this martin revolution and Purple Martins are much better off today than ever thanks to his pioneering work, which started it all. May he rest in peace, and he will forever be known as an icon in the Purple Martin interest. - Kent / Mt. Vernon, Arkansas
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