rcoleman.jpgRichard Coleman, a founder of the Florida chapter of the Sierra Club, died on July 18 in an airboat accident. He was 59.
Coleman was killed when his airboat collided with another on the Dead River in Florida. The three people who were riding on Coleman’s boat and the driver of the other boat received moderate to severe injuries in the crash.
Coleman moved to Winter Haven, Fla., in 1966 to work as a research chemist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. While he authored or co-authored more than 50 technical papers for the government, Coleman was primarily known as a protector of central Florida wetlands.
He joined the Sierra Club in the early 1970s, helped found its Florida chapter, then served two terms as its chair. His major goal was to restore the Kissimmee River, which the Army Corps of Engineers had turned into a 56-mile drainage ditch. He also led preservation efforts of the 560,000-acre Green Swamp.
Coleman’s wetland preservation work was recognized by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Florida Sierra Club, which awarded Coleman its Florida Chapter Medal for exceptional leadership in conservation.