John Hut­son

Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust em­ployee worked with fam­i­lies to pro­tect 43,500 acres from de­vel­op­ment

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly jac­ques.kelly@balt­sun.com

John Hut­son, a long­time Mary­land land preser­va­tion­ist who worked to pro­tect ru­ral and agri­cul­tural land, died of can­cer Nov. 22 at his Franklin, Tenn., home. The for­mer Arnold res­i­dent was 60. Born in Long Beach, Calif., and raised in Bethesda, he was the son of John J. Hut­son, a Coast Guard of­fi­cer, and Doris Everett, who also served in the Coast Guard dur­ing World War II.

A 1974 grad­u­ate of Wal­ter John­son High School in Bethesda, he earned a de­gree in for­est man­age­ment at North Carolina State Uni­ver­sity.

Mr. Hut­son joined the Peace Corps and served three years in Gu­atemala. In1984, he joined the Mary­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture at the Charles County Soil Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict.

In 1989, he moved to the Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust.

At the time of his re­tire­ment in 2014, Mr. Hut­son was an ease­ment plan­ner and pro­gram man­ager. Ac­cord­ing to col­leagues at the En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust, he had worked with 265 fam­i­lies to vol­un­tar­ily pro­tect 43,500 acres of farms, forests and his­toric prop­er­ties.

“John was a great lis­tener and he cared deeply for the land, and as deeply about the peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with it,” said Robert Et­gen, ex­ec­u­tive of the Eastern Shore Land Con­ser­vancy. “Per­ma­nent de­ci­sions for fam­ily land are dif­fi­cult. Hav­ing a com­fort­able and calm­ing voice in the room was one of John’s great­est skills in the con­ser­va­tion world.”

Mr. Hut­son later worked with the Scenic Rivers Land Trust in Anne Arun­del County and the Land Preser­va­tion Trust in Bal­ti­more County — again help­ing pro­tect agri­cul­tural and ru­ral prop­er­ties.

“My father loved the land and the peo­ple he worked with,” said his daugh­ter, Erin Me­ola of Colum­bus, Ohio.

“He taught me what it meant to re­ally en­joy what you do to make a liv­ing,” she said. “He loved walk­ing the prop­er­ties and tak­ing pho­tos. He loved talk­ing to all the dif­fer­ent peo­ple in­volved and learn­ing the farm his­tory. He was known as a true cham­pion of the land.”

Fam­ily mem­bers said Mr. Hut­son was an en­thu­si­as­tic birder and had re­cently recorded the sight­ing of an in­digo bunting along a Ten­nessee trail.

“John was hon­est and friendly and had a rap­port with peo­ple,” said Ann H. Jones, direc­tor of the Land Trust Al­liance. “This was why he was so good with landown­ers.”

Mr. Hut­son played sax­o­phone in high school and col­lege and never gave up the in­stru­ment. He also en­joyed play­ing bass guitar.

Mr. Hut­son, who was divorced from his first wife, was the sub­ject of a 2000 Bal­ti­more Sun ar­ti­cle about fa­thers who had sole le­gal cus­tody of their chil­dren.

“He knows few other men who have made his choice, and some­times grows tired of hav­ing to ex­plain his life­style to strangers,” The Sun ar­ti­cle said.

“Women are gen­er­ally sup­port­ive and cu­ri­ous. Men of­ten don’t know what to say to me,” Mr. Hut­son said in the ar­ti­cle.

He said he had no re­grets. “You have to ac­cept re­al­ity. Di­vorce hap­pens,” Mr. Hut­son said. “It’s not re­al­is­tic to turn things back to the ’ 50s. Those days are gone.”

He met his sec­ond wife, April Carter, a for­mer Anne Arun­del County Med­i­cal Cen­ter sys­tems an­a­lyst, while on a 40mile bike ride in and around Oxon Hill.

“Along the way, he gave me the his­tory of the pieces of prop­erty we passed,” she said. The two were mar­ried for 13 years. His daugh­ter, Ms. Me­ola, a stu­dent of vet­eri­nary medicine at Ohio State Uni­ver­sity, said: “He was an in­cred­i­ble father. He made me into a kind and car­ing per­son.”

Plans for a me­mo­rial cer­e­mony to be held next year are in­com­plete.

In ad­di­tion to his daugh­ter and wife, sur­vivors in­clude two sons, Thomas Hut­son of Bal­ti­more and Ai­den Hut­son of Franklin, Tenn. John Hut­son “was known as a true cham­pion of the land,” said his daugh­ter, Erin Me­ola.

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