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Book traces life of Walter J. Breckenridge

A giant among Minnesota’s naturalists was Walter J. Breckenridge, former director of the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History.

He died in 2003, at age 100.

Now his life and times are memorialized in a newly published autobiography, “My Life in Natural History by Walter J. Breckenridge.” The book is edited by his daughter Barbara Breckenridge Franklin and wildlife biologist John Moriarty.

The book traces Breckenridge’s life from his boyhood in Brooklyn, Iowa, through his travels to the Arctic and Galapagos Islands. It features 44 pages of color plates of his paintings, many of which became limited edition prints.

Breckenridge’s scientific work and environmental advocacy led to the establishment of parks, wetlands and wildlife areas in Minnesota, including Nerstrand Woods State Park, the Springbrook Nature Center and the university’s Cedar Creek Natural History Area.
By many accounts, Breckenridge was a humble man to whom writing an autobiography didn’t come easily, Bell Museum officials said in a release announcing publication of the book.

“Breck wasn’t the richest of men, but he had at least two qualities that cannot be bought: absolute class and an absence of ego,” Robert Zink, the Bell Museum Breckenridge Chair in Ornithology, wrote in the book’s foreword.

Proceeds from the book will benefit the Walter J. and Dorothy S. Breckenridge Education Endowment Fund in support of the museum’s education programs, exhibit development, diorama restoration and production of educational films. Publication was made possible by the financial support of the Walter J. Breckenridge Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, the Minnesota Ornithologist’s Union, the Minnesota Herpetological Society and the Nongame Wildlife Program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The book sells for $29.95. More information is available by calling (612) 624-9660 or by going here.

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