Nature 14

Bruce Hiscock

December 4, 1940 ~ July 11, 2021 (age 80)

Obituary

Bruce Hiscock, 80, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, died on July 11, 2021, in the house he built by hand using the rocks and trees on his property in Porter Corners, New York, what he called “the edge of the wild.” Bruce was well known both for his books and for his programs in schools and libraries, teaching children about the natural world and how to draw it. Local schoolchildren visited his studio and the woods around his home to see the real “big rock” - the subject of one of his books. His murals greet people as they enter the Children’s Floor of the Saratoga Springs Public Library.

Bruce grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, save for the nearly two years he spent with his family on Shemya, a remote Alaskan Island. Throughout his childhood, Bruce spent time outside, where he honed his observation skills, knowledge of animals and plants, and his love of nature and science - especially snowstorms. This all fed his later work as a nature writer and illustrator.

Bruce attended the University of Michigan and then Cornell University where he earned a PhD in chemistry. He used his scientific training as a researcher, a professor at Utica College and in Saratoga Springs, New York where he ran a drug-testing lab for racehorses for nine years. A self-taught artist, he left the chemistry field and turned full-time to his real passion of writing and illustrating science-based picture books.  

Since 1986 he wrote and published nine books and illustrated another four. Most of them are non-fiction and research based. His “Big” books; The Big Rock, The Big Tree, The Big Storm and The Big Rivers were designed to inform children and their adults about the natural world while also providing an historical perspective. During his writing career Bruce traveled extensively, often to do research. On one trip to northeastern Alaska, he found himself hiking in the middle of a huge caribou herd which resulted in The Big Caribou Herd: Life in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Bruce’s books were named Outstanding Science Trade Books by the Children’s Book Council. The Big Storm won the 1993 John Burroughs Award for best children’s book featuring natural history. Ookpik: The Travels of a Snowy Owl, was a finalist for the Charlotte Award of New York State and Coyote and Badger: Desert Hunters of the Southwest was a winner in the Children’s Category of the National Outdoor Book Awards.

Also, a self-taught musician, Bruce often sang and played his guitar with friends, as well as in various venues, such as nursing homes, and spontaneously whenever he was inspired by the acoustics. Every year, as Head Elf, he hosted a Christmas party, which included lighting candles on an outdoor evergreen and singing carols.  

Bruce is survived by his wife Helen Dickerson, sister Sue (Bill) Rohrer, two children Julia (Mark) Morrissey and Fred (Nancy) Hiscock, three grandchildren Max, Finn and Tempest Morrissey, nephews Will (Kim) Rohrer and Tom (Megan) Rohrer, and many cousins. 

In Bruce’s final letter to friends and family, he wrote: “I want my remains to be scattered to the winds, so I am more a part of everything on this beautiful planet. Perhaps you will think of me when the seasons change, and how I loved the first snowfall, the delicate spring woodland flowers, the small leaves on the trees, that will fill the woods, and the color they will display when the frost comes.”

Donations can be made in his name to Community Hospice—or please donate to a local children’s library in memory of Bruce.

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