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Herbert Philo Read

Born: Tue., Jun. 22, 1926
Died: Sun., Dec. 22, 2019

Family to do services at later date

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Herbert Philo Read, 93, who spent the greater part of his life working to preserve the Indiana Dunes, passed away peacefully at his home on December 22, 2019. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 22, 1926, the only child of Philo and Irene Read. As a boy Herbert visited the Indiana Dunes with his family nearly every weekend. He knew and photographed the Indiana Dunes in their undisturbed grandeur, before many of those Dunes were lost to intensive industrial and commercial development. It became his life’s work to preserve for future generations what remained of that precious natural treasure.

Herbert enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served on the cruiser USS Albany. After the war he bought and flew an army surplus Stearman biplane.

In 1952 Herbert married Charlotte Johnson, who shared his love for the Dunes. So began their life partnership as passionate and committed protectors of the natural environment. In 1959 Herbert and Charlotte bought a home close to the Indiana Dunes State Park, and brought up their five children amid the Dunes.

Herbert and Charlotte were founding members of the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, and Herbert served as its first president. They were longtime active members of the Save the Dunes Council. They gathered citizen petitions and testified before Congress in a successful effort to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966 and subsequently to expand and safeguard the park. On March 12, 2019 Herbert and Charlotte were honored with a standing ovation during a ceremony at the Indiana State Capitol marking the park’s becoming officially the Indiana Dunes National Park. Herbert was also active in creating a Porter County park system and later served as a member of the county planning commission.

Herbert was by profession an architect. Projects he worked on included water treatment plants in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Elston High School in Michigan City, Chicago’s Midway Airport, scattered-site public housing in Chicago, and a museum honoring the Tuskegee Airmen at Marquette Park in Gary. He also designed many private homes in and near the Indiana Dunes, including the Read Dune House in Tremont, originally built for his parents, who were also active in the effort to preserve the Dunes.

In 2011 the Read Dunes House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the efforts of citizen conservation groups to preserve the Indiana Dunes and create an Indiana Dunes National Park. The design of the home emerged from the Read family’s long relationship with dunes preservation efforts, Herbert’s insistence on harmony with the landscape, and a desire for a community space for friends and citizen volunteers.

Herbert Read’s own contribution to the Dunes effort included his skill at making and reading maps, his familiarity with every inch of the Dunes country, his mastery of technical detail, his understanding of legislative process, his enormous energy, and his persistence in the face of opposition from industry and, at that time, much of the state’s political leadership. Herbert pioneered techniques to challenge studies and analysis by government agencies and corporate interests. As one historian has noted, “Today such challenges are routine and fundamental to public land-use battles everywhere.”

Herbert and Charlotte fostered a lifelong love of the outdoors in their children John, Jim, David, Suzy, and Bill. Family outings included Dune hikes in all seasons and all weather, campfires and cookouts, and tobogganing down precipitous Dune slopes. Besides his passion for the Dunes, Herbert loved photography; antique cars (he owned several classic Studebakers); flying in vintage B-17 bombers; and riding, chasing and filming steam locomotives, often taking his children along on the steam trips.

Herbert passionately loved his family. He took great joy in their visits, accomplishments, photographs, and stories.

He was preceded in death by his beloved son William Philo Read in 2018, and his beloved life partner Charlotte on May 2, 2019. He is survived by sons John (and Sherrill), Jim (and Pia), David (and Karen), and daughter Suzy Hodge (and Brian); by his grandchildren Jacquelyne, Jonathon, Samantha, Allison, David, James, Jordana, Jessica, and Jennifer, and great-grandchildren Blake, Hunter, Katelyn, Krystal, Peyton, Jaxon, Ella, Colton, Cooper, and Dawson; and by his faithful cat Fatso.

The Read family thanks Julie McMeans, Suzie Gustafson, and Michael Ellerman for helping Herbert live his final months at home in dignity, friendship, and conversation.

A Celebration of Life service will be announced at a later date.

Professional arrangements are entrusted to the White-Love Funeral Home, Chesterton, IN. 



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Eugene Martin
   Posted Mon March 02, 2020
So very sorry to learn of Herb's passing. He was a key part of the Martin family as his mother, Irene, was my dad's sister. In the 40's/50's we had family gatherings 3 times a year. In the summer, we met in Mt. Prospect, Illinois at my parent's house. At Thanksgiving we all gathered in Chesterton, Indiana, at Herb's father's house, and at Christmas we all met in Chicago. I did send some pictures of these gatherings to Charlotte and Herb several years ago. If any family members would like copies of these pictures, feel free to contact me at my e-mail above. It was a honor to know Herb/Charlotte as well as his dad, Philo and of course his wife Irene. May the Lord bless all.

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