Ed Harte's $46 million endowment for the Harte Research Institute of Gulf of Mexico Studies was the most recent example of both his generosity and commitment to wise stewardship of our natural resources. Mr. Harte was an advocate of habitat protection and offshore drilling regulation for many years. William H. Dietel, chairman of the American Farmland Trust, said, "Ed has been a man of conservation for many years ... Ed had the capacity to see critical need."
1922 - 2011
As a man able to see critical need, habitat protection had been a major component of Ed's stewardship of the environment. In the 1980s he became active in farmland conservation and helped transform the American Farmland Trust into a national organization. Today the Trust helps protect farm and ranchland from urban sprawl and promotes environmentally friendly land management that benefits wildlife. He and his brother, Houston, donated their 66,000-acre ranch in the foothills of the Rosillos Mountains to Big Bend National Park, where it became the North Rosillos Mountains Preserve. He lobbied for establishment of both Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore that together have helped protect the diversity of habitats and wildlife found on Mustang and Padre islands. In addition, he and a committee of other concerned citizens came up with the first municipal regulations that set limits on oil and gas drilling in Corpus Christi Bay. These regulations became a model for future state and federal standards.
Ed had been active in a number of environmental organizations. He was the chairman of the board of the National Audubon Society in the late 1970s and a board member during the 1990s. He was a member of the board of the American Farmland Trust who honored him in 2001 when they established a trust fund for farmland conservation in his name. He was a past officer of the Texas State Parks Board Planning Committee. He was named "A Man for all Seasons" when he accepted the Corpus Christi Rotary Club's Harvey Weil Sportsman/Conservationist Award in 2002. Ed was born in Pilot Grove, Missouri, in 1922 and grew up in San Angelo, Texas. After attending school in Mexico City for a year, he finished his bachelor's degree at Dartmouth College. He served in the weather wing of the U.S. Army Air Corps in WWII.
After completing his military service, Ed began his long and illustrious career as a newspaper reporter, editor and, eventually, publisher. He began as a reporter for the Daily Eagle in Claremont, New Hampshire. It was during this first job that he met Janet W. Frey whom he married in 1947. He became editor of the Daily News in Snyder, Texas, in 1950, and with his brother and Andrew Shelton of Abilene, converted it from a weekly to a daily paper. He returned to San Angelo in 1952 as President of the Standard-Times.
Ed and his family came to Corpus Christi in 1956 when he became the Promotions and Public Relations Director for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. He became the Publisher of the Caller-Times in 1962, a title that he retained until his retirement in 1987. He was also an Editor of the newspaper during the 1970s and 1980s.
Ed, his wife Janet, and their four children, Christopher M., William S., Elizabeth and Julia traveled the world to look at wildlife. Ed was an avid birder, a hobby that he and his wife shared. Ed's love of the outdoors and his passion for conservation infused all he came in contact with. His friend and neighbor, Joe Hornblower, summed it up best when he said, "Ed seemed to be happiest when he was out in his garden, at the ranch or just outside anywhere looking at birds."