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Tonzi: 2014-10-02 12:00:00 (DOY 275)
Summary: Mr. Tonzi died today.
Author: Joe Verfaillie
Others: The Baldocchi Lab
Mr. Tonzi died today. He was 101 years and 4 months old. May he rest in peace.
"For the past 14 years Mr. Tonzi has been a gracious host to me and my students from UC Berkeley, who are doing meteorological research on his ranch. He was always kind, hospitable to us. One year when the creek was too wet to pass, he put in a bridge for us. Other times he pulled out novices from the mud.
We got to know him quite well over the years. Whenever we would service our instruments he would spend much of the day following us, asking questions and engaging in lively conversation about politics and the world about us. He had a keen and curious mind. We were also impressed with his energy and industry. One day I was speaking with him and he mentioned he was a bit sore (knowing ranchers he was probably doing a yeomans work). Yes he confessed he helped his neighbor put in fence the day before (he was 90 plus at the time!).
I would like to thank the Tonzi Family for their collaboration and offer our condolences. I would also like to inform the family that work on the ranch has turned into 7 PhD dissertations and numerous science papers on how the ecosystem breathes. Former students are now scientists or professors at Universities like Texas AM and the national labs in Livermore, Oak Ridge, New York and Washington. In sum, the world is learning so much more about the function and structure of oak savannas through our association and collaboration."
Dennis Baldocchi - Berkeley, CA
"I remember well our trip hunting for suitable tower sites, and fortuitously catching Mr. Tonzi at the gate to his ranch. He was so hospitable, endlessly cheerful, and the hardiest gentleman I have had the privilege to meet. Once he took a chainsaw and cut down a dead oak tree for me -- I think it was about 50 cm in diameter. I cannot stop thinking of him with amaze, and his easygoing conversation, over science, politics, or anything else, were such a pleasure.
Getting to interact with Mr. Tonzi while setting up our sapflow sensors and data loggers, I learned to appreciate more than the science but also a rich and timeless way of life, that straightforward independence and readiness to lend a helping hand in life on the land. Thank you, Mr. Tonzi, for this cherished opportunity to open my eyes.
Mr. Tonzi's passing feels like the end of an era, but also like the continuation of the deep impressions he made on all of us."
Nancy Kiang â€“ New York, NY
"I did a bunch of field work on Mr. Tonzi's ranch when I was a graduate student at Berkeley. My dissertation was based on the work I did on his ranch. He was such a gracious host and I was always amazed by his energy level as a 90plus-year-old. I remembered him telling us that his bone age was at 50s (~40 years younger than his age) when the doctor scanned him for a broken bone. There were a couple times he helped us pull our car out of the mud. He will always be remembered."
Xingyuan Chen - Richland, WA
"I first met Mr. Tonzi in 2006 when I started the PhD course at UC Berkeley. I came from Korea (and returned again in 2011), and at that time, my English was very poor. When I first met Mr. Tonzi, it was hard to communicate each other because of my English. However, I recall he showed full of smile and waited until I could speak something. Since then, we met many times at Tonzi ranch and I learned his kindness and diligence. Personally, I have been growing as an active researcher rooted on a series of canopy structure studies at Tonzi ranch. Thank you Mr. Tonzi and sleep peacefully."
Youngryel Ryu â€“ Soul, Korea
"Mr. Tonzi, who came from a time a century ago, was far ahead of his time and more forward-looking than most of us ever will be. His legacy and land are legend, and the name "Tonzi" is, in the scientific world, synonymous with long-lasting, high-quality, trustworthy, and deep connection to the Earth. It is incredible how land can form man; and, in return, man can form land.
What I learned while working at the Tonzi Ranch not only helped produce my Ph.D. dissertation, but has also shaped the rest of my career and has influenced the highest levels of US governance and NASA. Mr. Tonzi's influence will continue on for still another century."
Josh Fisher - Los Angeles, CA
"I was one of the postdocs that worked in the ranch. To be honest I was a bit surprised to know that Mr Tonzi was still alive! (sometimes I was wondering about it, actually) because he was already pretty old back in 2005. So I guess he had a long and, as far as I saw, good life..nice guy and very curious about all we were doing there!
If you have the opportunity send my regards and condolence to the family, please do it
Greatings from Colombia!"
Jorge Curiel Yuste â€“ Columbia
"Mister Tonzi was amazing and always interested in the activities at the site. I well remember him coming for a chat during one of the stable isotope campaigns (see picture).
best wishes from Germany, Alex"
Alexander Knohl â€“ Germany
"Mr. Tonzi is a validation of what we do. He makes me to love what I do more. Although I did not publish any paper related to measurements made at the Tonzi Ranch, many of you have because Mr. Tonzi opened his door to us and allowed us to pave the way for future research inside his ranch. Mr. Tonzi was a model farmer/rancher."
Lianhong Gu â€“ Lincoln, NE
"I am sad for that. Mr. Tonzi is so nice a gentleman. Many of our findings could not been done without his permission to access to his property...
All the best,
Jianwu Tang - Woods Hole, MA
"I met Russell Tonzi in January of 2001. He was 87 years of age at that time. He was 101 years of age at the time of his passing.
Russell was a not only an extraordinary delightful human being, he was as generous as he was gracious in sharing his land with us for our scientific research but even more so for freely sharing his wonderful stories of his life and times.
It is an honor and privilege to have shared the time I had with him and the world is a much better place for having had him in it!
Ted Hehn - Boulder, CO
"I am very sorry to hear of Mr. Tonzi's passing. I met him while doing many years of field work at his ranch as I pursued my Ph.D. It was always nice when he came out on his quad to chat about politics, our latest data, his many adventures in life, or how to get my car with a dead battery started. :) I always rave about how lucky I am to have gotten to know this man during my studies. He was a strong, simple, kind, and thoughtful man and his memory will definitely live on in those of us that had the pleasure of knowing him! Thank you, Mr. Tonzi, for your generous contributions to science and to scientists. As Nancy stated, it definitely feels like the end of an era! My husband, mother-in-law, and daughter all had the chance to meet Mr. Tonzi throughout the years that I have worked there both during my Ph.D. and now in my current position. They all ask about him whenever I go to the site and now send their sincere condolences in his passing."
Jessica Osuna - Livermore, CA
"I met Mr Tonzi last year, he was wearing a hat by Ford that said "Built though". Being built to last was one quality of his, and one could sense openness and kindness to others were as well. He obviously enjoyed working on his land and helping others, and had a strong connection to the natural and human environment. I am grateful to him and his family for welcoming us to work at the ranch, which is a beautiful and interesting place to conduct our research. I keep fond memories of time spent at the Tonzi ranch during my postdoc."
Martin Beland - Quebec, Canada
"Mr. Tonzi made to 102 years old. That's right; I first met him in 2004 when he was 92 years old. In the past 10 years, I got many chances to chat with him. He definitely made an amazing life, and his life influenced mine.
His grandma told him to be a woodcutter, and he did. He remembered how the oak trees looked like when he was young. Without automobiles, it took his grandpa almost a week to go to Jackson and come back. He had a driver job in San Francisco when he was about his 20s, maybe 30s. He had to get up very earlier and drove in the dark for a long day. The job made him too tired, and he came back home and started raising cows. Unfortunately, he had to close the business about 1975 because of an extreme dry summer (Our climate data tell the same story).
Mr. Tonzi was so happy with his new red vehicle. He equipped everything that a woodcutter would need. He drove it around to cut up the falling tree after a strong storm, to clean up the shrubs, and to fix the fence that originally set up by his grandpa. I was amazed how long the redwood fence could last.
Mr. Tonzi liked to share his opinions on many interesting topics: president election, homeland security, tax policies, insurance, etc. He worried about the future of the oak woodland since it might be hurt by intensive commercial development.
I remember it's such a pleasure every time talking with him. He's always smile. When I wanted to catch up my field work, he always said good-bye to me. One day I took my son to visit Tonzi Ranch when he was learning how to count to 100. He knew 100 so well after he met Mr. Tonzi, who was almost 100 years old.
With this note, let me join all and celebrate Mr. Tonzi's wonderful life."
Siyan Ma - Berkeley, CA
"He will certainly be missed, but well remembered!"
Kevin Tu - Berkeley, CA
"I really enjoyed working at the Mr. Tonzi's ranch. One day when I was working near the flux tower sites, he came by a buggy car and told me about his Suzuki's new buggy. He said he was quite satisfied with the new buggy car. The other day, when John Norman, Jon Welles, Youngryel Ryu and I visited the flux tower in 2010, Mr. Tonzi and John Norman talked a lot of things including the travel to Alaska long time ago. I couldn't have done my modeling study without the data collected in Mr. Tonzi's ranch. I would like to thank you to Mr. Tonzi and his family."
Hideki Kobayashi - Yokohama, Japan
CO2 Profile Tanks
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