A Brief Biography of a Forester – William “Bill” L. Hoover

By Brian MacGowan 

They always say you don’t know how busy you are until you retire.  That is certainly the case with Dr. Bill Hoover of Purdue University Department of Natural Resources (FNR).  I had the chance to sit down with Bill recently and catch up on what he has been doing since his retirement. Prior to our meeting, Bill wrote to me that he considers retirement as an opportunity to engage in volunteer, physical and academic activities that were not possible to the extent desired when he worked at Purdue.

For those who don’t know Bill, he has been a leader and nationally known expert in the application of the federal income and estate tax laws to family forest owners. He has expertly guided thousands of landowners all over the U.S. through his publications, web sites, regular tax columns and workshop presentations on forest economics. One of the department’s most popular publications was the “Indiana Forest Products Price Report and Trend Analysis” which Bill published from 1976 through 2013, spanning his 37 year extension appointment with Purdue University.

Working in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue for the past 20 years has given me the privilege and honor of working with talented individuals like Bill who have contributed much towards woodland management in Indiana.  When I interviewed for my current position Bill and I hopped in a car and he gave me a tour of Purdue’s Ag Centers and introduced me to staff around the state. Bill helped me get started in my extension career and he’s been an important mentor to me.

Liz Jackson, executive director of Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association has a similar story: “Bill was my major professor in grad school but then I lost touch with him. Twenty years later we reconnected and he encouraged me to join Purdue FNR in my current position. He introduced me to forestry professionals around the state and has been a great resource and friend to me since.” Undoubtedly, countless other grad students and Purdue FNR staff have similar stories. As co-director of the Natural Resources Leadership Institute for several years, Bill was instrumental in training this generation’s natural resource leaders.

Perhaps like most retirees, Bill said he likes to spoil his grandchild (soon to be two), volunteer at church, and even plan family reunions.  I asked him what he enjoyed most about his other retirement activities. Bill said without hesitation, “Working in the woods. At the end of the day, I stop, look at what I’ve done, reflect on the changes, and then decide what to do next.” If you know Bill, that shouldn’t surprise you. Even so, many activities Bill is involved in were quite surprising and impressive.       

He’s probably in the best physical shape in a long time because of his work controlling invasive plants at Berlovitz Woods, a 19-acre city-owned woodlot in Tippecanoe County. Like many historically grazed woodlots in Indiana, Berlovitz Woods is overrun with Asian bush honeysuckle. As many of our readers know firsthand, that is hard work – plain and simple! With a gleam in his eye, Bill said his resting pulse is 58.  However, Bill cracked his rib recently doing this work. He told me this with perhaps just a hint of pride, but who can blame him.  So unfortunately, working in the woods is out of the question for the next six weeks.


Brian MacGowan is an Extension Wildlife Specialist with Purdue University’s Department of Forestry. He also has served as secretary and editor for the Woodland Steward since 2008. Liz Jackson, executive director of Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association, contributed to this story.