The man behind the popularity of purple martins and wildlife art...
J. L. Wade
"It had come to my attention
that a species of bird was in trouble -- the
Purple Martin (Progne subis). By the
1960's, the purple martin's natural habitat had
all but disappeared. In 1962, I began a crusade
to save this beneficial bird from becoming a
— J. L. Wade
J. L. Wade was a successful industrialist who, during the
latter half of the 20th century, shifted all of his energies and resources to
the cause of wildlife conservation in America.
More than any other person, he was responsible, through his own
efforts and those of the organization which he sponsored,
for the widespread rise of interest in antique and
modern wildlife art. Because of his efforts, pioneering
nature artists such as Mark Catesby and Alexander Wilson
have received long-overdue recognition outside of the
university communities in which they always have been
A lifelong nature enthusiast, he helped Griggsville citizens
originate their community purple martin project, led
development of an innovative martin house which changed
a nation's thinking on that subject, re-oriented his
entire industry toward conservation, sponsored the
creation of a continent-wide conservation organization,
wrote two important books on the purple martin, and
travelled the country speaking on behalf of various conservation
He was widely known as "the nation's foremost authority on purple
martins" and has been featured in countless publications,
including Look magazine and the Wall Street Journal,
because of his zealous promotion of songbirds.
On November 6, 2006, J.L. Wade sold the Nature House name and product manufacturing along with the Nature Society, publisher of the Nature Society News to a small family-owned birding hardware business in Chicago, ERVA Tool & Mfg. Co., Inc. Mr. Wade died on June 9, 2007, in Scottsdale, Arizona; funeral services were held in Griggsville and he is buried in Griggsville Cemetery.
Erwin Heyek, president of ERVA Tool, wearing a purple tie and cufflinks out of respect for Mr. Wade on the day of the signing.