John S. Gottschalk, who retired as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1970 and was a longtime member of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Board of Directors, died of cancer Aug. 13 at his home in Arlington, VA. He was 86.
During the six years he served as USF & WS director, he oversaw the passage of the first federal endangered species acts and witnessed a comeback by the nearly endangered whooping crane. The National Wildlife Refuge System added more than 500,000 acres of habitat during his tenure, and urban wildlife programs were started. DDT was also banned as a pesticide during that time.
Gottschalk served for 10 years as the president and chairman of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Board of Directors, and remained a member of the board until his death. He was also active with many other conservation groups, having served as president of the American Fisheries Society and the Washington Biologists Field Club. He had also served on the boards of the National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Naturalist Society.
Before leaving in 1970, he worked 23 years in the Department of Interior, and received the department’s Distinguished Service Award, as well as awards from such groups as the Wildlife Society, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Resources Council of America.
After leaving the Fish and Wildlife Service, Gottschalk worked from 1970 to 1973 as assistant to the director of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Until retiring in 1986, he served as executive vice president and then counsel of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
A native of Indiana, Gottschalk joined the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1945, serving in Montana before coming to Washington in 1951. He later became the first director of the new sport fisheries division. In 1959, he went to Boston as director of the 11-state Northeast region of the service. He became service director in 1964.
Gottschalk was an honorary life member of the American Fisheries Society, the Izaak Walton League of America and a member of the Cosmos Club.
A memorial service is scheduled 1–4 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Cosmos Club in the District of Columbia.
Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Edith, of Arlington; a son, Thomas, of the District of Columbia; a daughter, Sara Nell Davis of Sebeck, WA; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
He named the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay as one of the charities to whom he would like memorial contributions made. Any contributions received in his memory will be acknowledged to his wife, Edith.