12.28.18 | Oak Thorne

Oak grew up on 60 acres on the south shore of Long Island, NY, so he was a “Nature Boy” right from a young age. At 13, he banded his first bird under his biology teacher at Millbrook School in Millbrook, NY and received his own Federal Master Bird Banding permit at age 18.

Oak earned a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Conservation from Yale University, and was a member of the famous Yale “Whiffenpoofs,” the oldest college a cappella singing group in the nation. He also played marimba in a jazz trio called the “Tritones,” and was a member of the Yale Glee Club.

Oak came to Boulder in 1954 and earned a Ph.D in Biology from the University of Colorado. He founded Thorne Films, and educational film company, and the nonprofit Thorne Ecological Institute (now Thorne Nature Experience). The latter is well-known for its environmental education programs with children and youth throughout the greater Denver area. He founded the “Buffoons” at the University of Colorado, the oldest men’s a cappella group at CU.  

From 1969 to 1987, Oak owned Valley Ranch, the famous guest ranch in northwest Wyoming. He then returned to Boulder where he helped establish the Environmental Studies Department at Naropa University. He was involved with the CU Alumni Mentoring Program, and at 90, he still enjoys being a mentor to young people.

Oak was on the City of Boulder Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and helped save Settler’s Park and the Enchanted Mesa. He worked to pass the sales tax to buy open space, making Boulder a unique community. He was a founding member of PLAN-Boulder County.

Oak enjoys doing vocal arranging for singing groups and plays jazz piano, often on Friday nights at City Club!

Ian ReidComment