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Forestry expert John reunited with his beloved Betty.

FORESTER John Zehetmayr has died at the age of 87.

John Zehetmayr, from Penarth, was an outstanding forester who had a major influence on the practice of forestry in Britain.

He was a leader in research into upland afforestation, and transformed basic forest operations through his leadership, and as senior Forestry Commission officer in Wales he guided forestry in the principality for 15 years.

Educated at St Paul's and at Keble College, Oxford, where he took a botany degree, John responded to a call for science-based graduates in 1941.

This proved to be for training as a radar officer and John joined the Royal Navy as a sub-lieutenant special branch.

He served on fighter direction vessel HMS Ulster Queen throughout the war and was present at the Salerno and Anzio landings.

It was while stationed in Belfast during a refit that he met Betty Neill, who he married in September 1945.

After completing a degree in forestry, John joined the Forestry Commission in 1947.

In Scotland he set up the first Forestry Work Study department in Europe and became conservator of West Scotland.

He was transferred to Wales in 1966 as conservator of South Wales and senior officer of Wales.

In his retirement, John continued to influence conservation issues until his death through a wide variety of activities.

He served on the Prince of Wales Committee, the Brecon Beacons National Park Committee, was vice chairman of Glamorgan Wildlife Trust and chairman of the Forestry Safety Council.

He was warden of Lavernock Nature Reserve for more than 30 years and his systematic butterfly recordings there and elsewhere provide part of the raw data helping us to understand the effects of climate change on wildlife.

John was awarded Welsh Volunteer of the year in 2007 and made honorary vice president of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales in 2008.

For many years, John cared for his beloved wife Betty during a prolonged illness. She died this year, only a few months before him.

John was also a keen skier, taking up the sport in his mid-40s, initially in Scotland and then on family trips to the Alps. He was a keen supporter of the Fairwater artificial slope in Cardiff and became a volunteer instructor in 1984 and remained so for 25 years.

He leaves three children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His family will miss him deeply and hope that he will now be reunited with his wife Betty in heaven.

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John Zehetmayr, from Penarth, has died at the age of 87
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Words:425
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