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September 19, 2013

Sisters protect land in honor of their father

Staff Report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Two sisters have partnered with Otsego Land Trust to protect their 33.3-acre property in honor of their father, Dr. Edmund Kerper.

Mary Clare LaDine and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly donated a conservation easement to Otsego Land Trust, which assures the property’s protection now and for future generations. According to a media release, the Monnelly-LaDine parcel of healthy forests and open fields connects to other protected properties and contains a 20-acre wetlands natural area that acts as an important natural filter for Oaks and Fly creeks.

LaDine and Monnelly committed to permanently protecting their land in order to create a special legacy for their father. They describe Kerper as a “quiet, gentle hero who was always there to listen and not be judgmental.” Assuring the protection of a landscape that he loved and that they’ve always cherished seemed the perfect act to honor his memory and his inspirational life, according to the release.

Kerper was remembered in a Daily Star tribute as “the ‘diagnostic backbone’ of the excellent staff of physicians which made Homer Folks Hospital perhaps the best sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis in the United States” in the years during and after WWII.

“One of the reasons we thought to preserve the land in his memory,” Monnelly said in the release, “is because there are wildflowers there that he loved to see and photograph. He also enjoyed the many birds that came to his feeder and were visible over the fields. They were good company for him.”

Monnelly is acclaimed in her own right as a nature photographer. Her photographs are currently being shown in an exhibit titled “Fragile Waters” along with those of Ansel Adams and Ernest H. Brooks II. She credits her father with nurturing her career.

“He bought me my first camera and taught me to use it,” she remembers.

Recently, Monnelly and LaDine published a book of their mother’s poetry partnered with Monnelly’s arresting photographic images of the natural world titled “For My Daughters.” In the introduction, Monnelly explains that the book, dedicated to their mother who died of breast cancer in 1945, had its “origin in a small book of my mother’s poetry, which was published by my father.”

“For My Daughters” communicates the many facets of the human experience, love, family, loneliness, death and hope.

“The story connected to the protection of Monnelly-LaDine property is truly a special one,” Virginia Kennedy, executive director of Otsego Land Trust, said in the release. “Dorothy and Mary have remembered their father, a beloved father and doctor, in a way that profoundly honors him and assures that the whole community can benefit. Not only have they created the perfect legacy, but they have assured that the forests and important wetlands of this beautiful parcel will continue to be home to abundant bird and wildlife, to contribute to the health of Oaks and Fly Creeks, and to maintain the scenic, rural character of the whole area.”

The Monnelly-LaDine easement is part of 600 acres of forests, farmlands and historical structures — from the ridgeline of Bedbug Hill to Oaks Creek, that have been protected by Otsego Land Trust. To learn more about protecting healthy lands and waters in the unique Upper Susquehanna River region, contact Otsego Land Trust at 547-2366, write to or visit