Cover photo for Clifford Germain's Obituary
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1923 Clifford 2022

Clifford Germain

September 14, 1923 — September 26, 2022


Clifford E. Germain of Madison, age 99, died peacefully at home on September 26, 2022. He was born on September 14, 1923, in Merrill, WI to Elizabeth (Sense) and Glen Germain.

Cliff served in the U.S. army in Germany and France during WWII as a radio technician. After returning to the states he graduated from UW-Madison in 1949 with a BS in Zoology where his most influential professors were Aldo Leopold and John Curtis. Cliff’s education, along with his childhood of fishing and hunting in northern Wisconsin, secured his interest in nature and conservation.

Cliff began his career with the Wisconsin Conservation Department (WCD), purchasing acres of wetlands on behalf of the state, including some that would become State Wildlife Areas. Later he became the first ecologist hired by the WCD as staff person for the Preservation of Scientific Areas and then joined the DNR for the remainder of his career as Scientific Areas Program ecologist, partnering with The Nature Conservancy to protect habitat for the state of Wisconsin. Recognized accomplishments include Cliff’s induction into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame in 2014, the establishment of the Cliff Germain award for Excellence in Community-Based Restoration by the Madison Audubon Society in 2008, the dedication of the Germain Hemlocks State Natural Area by the DNR in 2002, and the first ever George B. Fell Award from the Natural Areas Association as the founding member and the driving force for the first state natural areas program in the U.S. in 1987.

Cliff had an eclectic set of interests including growing Sungold tomatoes and maintaining his natural front yard, educating people about climate change, cheering on the Badgers, Packers and the Brewers, playing video poker, traveling the world with his wife Colleen, and spending winters in Sierra Vista, AZ where he led guided hikes and was a Friend of the San Pedro River. Cliff took up golf in his 40s, getting 2 holes in one and golfing with his retired golf league until he was 92 years old. Of course Cliff’s biggest joy was being in nature. His favorite spots were the UW-Madison Arboretum, Parfrey’s Glen, and the numerous state natural areas he helped to preserve.

Cliff is survived by his family Al Germain (Julie Waldman), Glenn Germain (Maria-Rosa), Chris Schlichenmaier (Jerry), Jhon Koppa (Ivonne Suryana) Joel Koppa, Kathi Koppa (David Inman, daughter Jane Lowy) and grandchildren Sven Hansen (Dawn), Eric Hansen, Carl Germain, Nora Germain, Lily Wilson, Gabriel Weldeslassie, and great grandchildren Heather, Kirsten (Taylor DiSalvo), and Morgan Hansen and great great grandchild Estelle DiSalvo. Cliff maintained close contact with his Minocqua-based family Dee Smedberg, Dave and Jeff (Holly) Hanson, and Erica Schumacher and family and enjoyed their cookies and artwork.

Cliff was preceded in death by his siblings Douglas, Margie, and Stanley, his musically-accomplished first wife Patricia Germain, his second wife and life companion of many happy years Colleen Germain, and children Joan and Michael Koppa.

Cliff was fortunate to have amazing neighbors on “the circle” for the past 50+ years and was particularly close to the Monts and to Bill and Carole. The family would like to thank his colleagues at the DNR, most recently Thomas Meyer, and the team at Agrace - particularly Rachel – as well as the amazing Dr. Datallo, Cliff’s caregiver Laura, and, Kelly, his most dedicated and loving caretaker without whom he could not have stayed at home this past year.

There will be a celebration of Cliff’s life on Thursday, October 20 from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, 330 Femrite Dr, Monona, WI. Memories shared about Cliff are welcomed.

Donations in remembrance of Cliff can be made to The Nature Conservancy WI Chapter, The Audubon Society, and Planned Parenthood. Another way to honor Cliff is to read one of his favorite books, “A Sand County Almanac,” by Aldo Leopold.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Clifford Germain, please visit our flower store.


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