Ralph W. Abele

August 13, 1921 - June 15, 1990

As one of its authors, Ralph Abele believed strongly in the 19th amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, setting forth the right of everyone to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment.

Although his early professional career was far outside his avocation for the natural world, he dedicated his private life to its service and in 1969 made the bold move to leave his steady job and become executive secretary of the state’s Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee. In 1972, he was appointed executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission and gave his staff important missions – go after polluters, rewrite the Fish and Boat Code, develop and implement Operation FUTURE, restore shad to the Susquehanna River and the teach the younger generation what’s important. Coined “Resource First,” this philosophy for management guides the agency to this day.

He received numerous awards including the American Motors Award, the Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation’s “Conservationist of the Year” award, Trout Unlimited’s Professional Conservationist of the Year and the Meritorious Service Award from the Great Lake Fishery Commission.