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January 6, 2020


In Swedish, "vän till strömmen" means "friend of the stream." On Dec. 30, 2019, the streams, the woods, the fringed gentians, and the serpentine barrens lost a true friend and eloquent advocate with the death of Jack Alan Wennerstrom of Randallstown, MD. He returned to stardust at age 71 following a massive aorta dissection/stroke. This Scandinavian-rooted author, naturalist, poet, philosopher, birder, fisher, and teacher thoroughly and truthfully examined his own existence and the world around him. He was the life's love of his wife of 42 years, Donna Shoemaker, and an inspiration to family, friends, and all who value the joy of learning about the natural world.


Please visit for a memorial tribute.




Jack Wennerstrom, a writer, teacher, and naturalist, was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1948. He received a B.A. in English from Lake Forest College in 1970, taught high-school English, Humanities, and World Literature, and wrote his first novel, THE WAYSIDE OF DREAMS, in 1978. In the ‘80s he re-embraced his childhood love of nature and began writing for outdoor and nature magazines, including Bird-Watcher’s Digest, where he became a Contributing Editor in 1990. His first book, SOLDIERS DELIGHT JOURNAL, about a globally-rare prairie ecosystem near his home outside Baltimore, was published in 1995 by the University of Pittsburgh Press. This was followed by LEANING SYCAMORES: NATURAL WORLDS OF THE UPPER POTOMAC, published the next year by The Johns Hopkins University Press. While working as a teacher and naturalist at both Loyola University Maryland and BioTrek Naturalists, Inc., he wrote three novels: BLACK COFFEE, HOME GROUND, and PHEASANT ALLEY. He was President of BioTrek Naturalists from 2002 to 2006.

SOLDIERS DELIGHT JOURNAL met with immediate praise from reviewers, Dan Rodrick’s of The Baltimore Sun calling it “quietly brilliant”, while The Sun’s book reviewer, James H. Bready, referred to Wennerstrom’s “sharp eye” and “burnished style”, concluding that “Henry David Thoreau would have admired…this book.” Diane La Morte added: “He does his research, but he’s able to combine that kind of overview with a poet’s or a novelist’s understanding of writing. He is someone upon whom nothing is lost…”

Praise for LEANING SYCAMORES was equally high, with The Sun and Washington Post Book World offering kudos, and Pennsylvania Audubon’s Dave Bonta saying about it: “Every once in a blue moon a book comes along that’s so good a book reviewer can’t find the right words to praise it…” Said Carolyn Sutterfield of Mid-Atlantic Country: “Wennerstrom has a gift for the striking observation (and his) approach to his subject is refreshingly original, sometimes even disconcerting.” In 1996 LEANING SYCAMORES was nominated for The John Burroughs Medal, the highest award granted for a popular book in the natural sciences.

Having left Chicago for the Mid-Atlantic region in 1976, Wennerstrom married journalist and editor Donna Shoemaker in 1977, in Dolgellau, Wales, U.K., and for the last 33 years has lived with her on a two-acre woodlot in Randallstown, Maryland, surrounded by trees, gardens, and wildlife.


The first printing of SOLDIERS DELIGHT JOURNAL REVISITED: A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE has sold out. Please see the Photos/News page for more details about the book and its availability, or visit the Non-Fiction page.