An anonymous donation through the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s Fund for Excellence was made in honor of Charles “Charlie” F. Raper, a former professor in the college.
“He is a pioneer of the timberland investment business,” said Daowei Zhang, Alumni and George W. Peake Professor of Forest Economics and Policy and the college’s associate dean of research. Charlie Raper was born in Decatur, Georgia, in 1930 to a family who owned 4,000 acres of forestland. Naturally, Raper pursued a degree in forestry at North Carolina State University.
After graduation in 1954, Raper enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a light aircraft pilot until 1958 when he was employed by Travelers Insurance Company within its agriculture division.
“Travelers hired Charlie as the first forester in the company and perhaps in the whole insurance industry in the U.S.,” said Zhang. While working at Travelers, Raper received his MBA in finance in 1972, and his juris doctorate degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1982.
After retiring in 1988 as the secondvice president in charge of real estate research and development for Travelers, Raper joined the Auburn University faculty where he served as the George W. Peake Professor of Forestry in, what it was known as at the time, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.
“I think he was ready to leave the big corporate world. He had something to offer to younger generations,” said the college’s Emeritus Dean Emmett Thompson.
Raper taught courses in forest finance, appraisal, and even forest policy. His colleagues believe his industry background and his educational qualifications in forestry, business and law were a unique combination that allowed him to bring expertise and knowledge to his students.
“The students appreciated him,” Thompson said. “He was so down to earth and accommodating. If students wanted to talk with him, he would talk to them.”
Raper held directorships in the South Alabama Land and Timber Company, Inc. and the Resource Management Services, Inc. and was advisory director of the Hancock Timber Resources Group. He also held memberships with the Society of American Foresters, American Bar Association, Alabama Bar Association, Connecticut Bar Association and the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. He also was a member of the Investment Committee of the Society of American Foresters and was a registered forester in Alabama and Georgia.
“I am not surprised that someone would give a donation in his name,” Zhang said. “He’s well-liked by the people within the industry and by the students. It is a tribute to him.”
Donations to the Funds for Excellence may be used to support student leadership and learning opportunities, technology and facility improvements that enhance learning environments, equipment, forestry and wildlife sciences research, natural resources related outreach programs, faculty support or critical priorities as determined by the college’s dean.
“Charlie’s contributions to the school’s students will be forever remembered. He has made an incredible mark on hundreds of undergraduate students and mentored numerous graduate students who have benefited from his knowledge of forest investment and analysis,” said the college’s Emeritus Dean Richard Brinker.
(Written by Jamie Anderson)