Stoutenburgh remembered as family man, environmental giant

Paul Stoutenburgh was honored on Saturday during a memorial service titled 'Focus on Paul.' (Cyndi Murray photo)
Paul Stoutenburgh was honored on Saturday during a memorial service titled ‘Focus on Paul.’ (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Paul Stoutenburgh wore lots of hats.

Perhaps best known for his work pioneering conservationism on the North Fork, the celebrated environmentalist most valued his role as a husband, father and friend, his son, Roger Stoutenburgh, said during a memorial service held for his father Saturday.   

“The greatness of this man could be measured in achievements alone, but that is not enough,” he said. “I believe the true weight of a man is measured by the impact he made on his family. My dad hit a home run in that field.”

More than 100 friends, family members and community leaders came out for the afternoon memorial service, dubbed “Focus on Paul,” at Southold High School. The emotional memorial, named after the “Focus on Nature” column he wrote for 50 years in the Riverhead News-Review and later The Suffolk Times with his wife Barbara, brought tears to the eyes of those in attendance. A montage of photos played for the audience, illustrating Mr. Stoutenburgh the family man — playing with his grandchildren, hugging his wife and smiling with friends.

The longtime Cutchogue resident died at his home in July surrounded by family members at the age of 92.

A shop teacher at Greenport High School, Mr. Stoutenburgh dedicated much of his time to environmental causes.


On Saturday speakers shared stories of how he impacted their lives and the future of the North Fork.

Chelsea Stoutenburgh, Mr. Stoutenburgh’s granddaughter

“The message I have taken away from Pa is that … your efforts make a difference. My Pa treated every plant, person and animal with kindness. My grandparents influenced people to care about the environment on the North Fork.”

Paul Stoutenburgh, Mr. Stoutenburgh’s grandson

“He proved to me that you really can do something for the world. I am proud to be walking in his footsteps.”

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski

“Paul touched so many lives. When I got out of college, Paul approached me to run for Town trustee. I didn’t know what a Democrat or Republican was because I was a plant science major. But I respected his opinion and started going to the meetings. It was because of Paul’s influence that I got involved. I’ll never forget that. Paul Stoutenburgh changed the culture of environmentalism. His is a life that needs to be remembered and I believe he will.”

Tim Caufield, Peconic Land Trust

“Paul was one of our very first board members who represented the North Fork. He was generous with his time. That was back before there was a Community Preservation Fund or land preservation committee. He had the vision and determination to find a way. And he did. All one needs to do is look at a map of land preservation on the North Fork and you will see Paul. He was a teacher and a mentor. That is how he will be remembered.” 

Roger Stoutenburgh, Mr. Stoutenburgh’s son

“When you miss him, and I do miss him, all you have to do is walk outside into the wonderful world he helped create.”

[email protected]