John Witter

John Allen Witter

September 2, 1943 August 4, 2020

Sign in to the Family Interactive Login

The Family Interactive feature enhances An Amazing Life. Authorized family members can securely access their loved one's memorial website settings at any time.

Share Book of Memories with a Friend

Please enter the name and email details so that we can send your friend a link to the online tribute. No names or addresses will be collected by using this service.

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

To share your memory on the wall of John Allen Witter, sign in using one of the following options:

Sign in with Facebook


Or sign in with your email address

Your condolence has been posted successfully

Provide comfort for the family by sending flowers or planting a tree in memory of John Allen Witter.

No Thanks

Contact Funeral Home

Please enter your question / comment below:

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

John Allen Witter's Tribute Fund's Tribute Fund

  •  Full Name
  •  Initials
  •  Anonymous
By continuing, you agree with the terms and privacy policy.

John Allen Witter's Tribute Fund's Tribute Fund

There may be a delay while processing. Please do not click the back button or refresh while a payment is processing.


Obituary for John Allen Witter

John Allen Witter, Ph. D., age 76, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, died unexpectedly at home on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. He was the happiest, most enthusiastic and most optimistic person you could ever meet, and he had often said that these recent years, despite health challenges, were the absolute happiest time of his entire life.

John was born September 2, 1943, in Jamestown, New York, to parents Charles and Edna Mae (Ferguson) Witter. He was raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his sisters, Gladys and Mildred, where he played Little League baseball (1st base) and other sports, was active in University Baptist Church youth group and choir, acted as manager for the football team while a student at Lane High School, and participated in Boy Scouts, rising to the level of Eagle Scout. He also sold Christmas trees for many years for the Kiwanis Club.

After graduating from high school in 1961, John attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he obtained a BS degree in Forest Management in 1965 and an MS degree in Entomology in 1967. His Master’s thesis focused on use of ladybird beetles to control the balsam woolly aphid on Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina. He then moved to the University of Minnesota, where he received his Ph.D. in 1971, with a major in Entomology and a minor in Forestry. His dissertation focused on the ecology and population dynamics of the forest tent caterpillar.

John joined the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources in 1972 as an Assistant Professor of Forest Entomology. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1976, and Professor of Entomology and Forest Dynamics in 1984. From 2000-2010, John held the George Willis Pack Professorship in Forest Entomology. During his 39 years at U of M, he was very active and enthusiastic as both a researcher and teacher. He co-authored a well-known textbook, Forest Entomology: Ecology and Management, as well as authoring and co-authoring hundreds of journal articles, technical reports, handbooks, video productions, and other materials. He collaborated extensively with both the USDA Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, as well as with colleagues at both Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University, where he was an Adjunct Professor of Forestry. His research interests revolved around a variety of forest insects and other forest health disturbances in both rural and urban forests, such as tent caterpillar, spruce budworm, gypsy moth, beech bark disease, and air pollution. He served on numerous steering and advisory committees and technical panels, and was a regional trainer for the Forest Health Monitoring/Forest Inventory and Analysis programs of the USDA Forest Service for many years.

John deeply enjoyed teaching, both in the classroom and in the field, and it was this that he missed most after his retirement in 2011. In addition to teaching on the Ann Arbor campus, he taught for many years at Camp Filibert Roth in Iron County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he served as the Director for several sessions, and later at the U of M Biological Station in Pellston, Michigan. His teaching portfolio included courses such as Biology and Management of Insects, Insect Ecology, Agricultural and Forest Pest Management, Habitats and Organisms, Integrative Field Studies, Introduction to Natural Resources, and Natural Resource Problem Solving. He chaired more than 70 M.S. and Ph.D. graduate student committees and served as a member on committees for numerous other graduate students.

John was an avid reader, especially of books on sports, history, and nature. He was a dedicated fan of college football and basketball, and particularly enjoyed U of M men’s basketball, for which he was a season ticket holder since 1972 and rarely missed attending a home game.

John is survived by his beloved wife and devoted caregiver, Jennifer Stoyenoff; his daughter, Leslie Witter (Wilsall, MT); his sisters, Gladys (Jim) Wiley (Vienna, VA) and Mildred (Melvin) Spicer (Charlottesville, VA); his niece and nephews, Mary Wiley, Joe (Yudy) Wiley, and Paul (Stuart) Spicer; his great-nieces and great-nephew, Hope and David Wiley and Carson Spicer; his lifelong friend, who was like a brother, Edward “Tuck” (Marionette) Jones (Warrenton, VA); and Leslie’s mother, Nancy Witter (Ann Arbor, MI).

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Allen Witter, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
Read Less

Sign Up for Notifications

Receive notifications about information and event scheduling for John Allen Witter

Service Details

Photos & Videos

Photo Album

Upload up to 10 images at a time, max 8MB each

Subscribe to Updates

We encourage you to share any memorable photos or stories about John Allen Witter. All tributes placed on and purchased through this memorial website will remain on in perpetuity for generations.

Tribute Wall

Private Condolence
Would you like to attach a photo or video to your condolence?

No video recorded.

Provide comfort for the family of John Allen Witter by sending flowers.
Hand delivered by a local florist
Provide comfort for the family of John Allen Witter by sending flowers.
Hand delivered by a local florist

Hobie Perry

John was my instructor at UMBS (Highways and Organisms!) and inspired me to change my career arc. I am forever grateful and offer my sincerest condolences.
Comment | Posted at 12:17pm via Condolence

Richard Hevener

John and I were classmates from 1956 thru 1961. He was a really nice guy. No one who knew him will ever forget him. Please accept my sincere condolences.
Comment | Posted at 12:38pm via Condolence

Andy Smith

John and I were good friends in high school and shared many experiences in school, at University Baptist and in Boy Scouts. I am the one beside John in the Scout picture. Unfortunately I had little contact with John after high school but know that we would have shared many interests particularly in ecological issues. John was a good soul. Go in peace John.
Comment | Posted at 11:12am via Condolence

Phil Huber

Everything I know about insects is because of you Dr. Witter. Thank you!
Comment | Posted at 11:35am via Condolence

Neil MacDonald

I was a post-doctoral fellow supervised by John from 1987-1994 as part of the Michigan Gradient Study. After the first year, where John checked in with me once a week, then once a month, we would meet once each fall and John would ask "Well Neil, what are you going to do this year?" and then let me alone to do it. The time I spent working with John was truly inspirational, and is the primary reason that I went on to pursue a career in academia. John always had a great sense of humor, even during times of stress, and that communicated itself to everyone who worked for or with him. My condolences to all who loved John.
Comment | Posted at 11:13am via Condolence

Why light a candle?

This is why you should light a candle..

Share by: