Cover photo for Donald Louis Hey's Obituary
Donald Louis Hey Profile Photo
1940 Donald 2022

Donald Louis Hey

March 10, 1940 — July 24, 2022

Donald Louis Hey, 82, died peacefully at home on July 24, 2022 leaving his wife of 18 years, Joanne Edid, children Jessica Huth (Kate Huth), Spencer Hey (Julie Walsh), Rebekah Raleigh (Jacob Schuster), and Sarah Raleigh (Robert Christie), and grandchildren Willa and August Huth, Alexander and Hannah Schuster, and William Christie. He is also survived by his sisters Barbara Ryan of Kansas City, MO and
Margaret Ward (Bill Ward) of Middletown, CT. 

Born in Kansas City, MO, to Louis and Lela Hey, Donald's boundless intellectual curiosity led him to a life full of adventures. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science & Technology), he became an early Peace Corp volunteer, spending two years in Malaysia building bridges in the mid-1960s. He then earned a master’s degree from the University of Kansas and a fellowship from the Ford Foundation, which took him to Nigeria, where he taught engineering.

After his fellowship, Donald spent the next few years traveling overland from Thailand through South Asia into Turkey, documenting the journey with thousands of photographs, souvenirs, and stories. Once he returned to the U.S., he completed a PhD in environmental science from Northwestern University and ultimately settled and built his family in Evanston, IL.

Donald founded several organizations in the domain of environmental restoration and ecosystem services. He and his colleagues pioneered innovations in flood-plain management and he worked tirelessly to help shape public policies to support safe and sustainable aquatic ecosystems—including testifying before the U.S. Congress in 1989. He spent the last decades of his career working to implement a market-based solution to improve water quality, which he called “nutrient farming”.

Donald’s vision, tenacity, and mentoring created the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge in Hennepin Township, IL and Neal Marsh in Wadsworth, IL. These vibrant green spaces are a living testament to his life’s work.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Wetlands Research Inc. at or PO Box 225, Wadsworth, IL  60083. 

A celebration of Donald’s life is planned for late September. You may email for more information.  

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


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