A celebration of the life of renowned wildlife photographer Warren Garst will be held Friday, Sept. 23, 5-7 p.m., on the third floor of Morgan Library at Colorado State University. The campus and community are invited to attend.
CSU alumnus (zoology ’63) Garst, who passed away on July 12, 2016, is remembered as a talented and adventurous individual by those who knew him. Garst and his wife Genny, who helped introduce computers to Colorado State, traveled the world together and brought their experiences and photographs back to Colorado.
Warren Garst was born in Douglas, Wyo., on Sept. 21, 1922. As a young man, he studied at the California Institute of Technology before transferring to the University of Colorado, Boulder. While studying in Boulder, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served for four years near the end of World War II.
After returning home, he went on to complete his studies at CU and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. His education led him to a job working with oil wells throughout the intermountain regions of Wyoming and Colorado.
He was employed in the oil industry for some time but eventually sought a job that was more in line with his interests. He returned to Douglas and became a freelance writer.
Garst decided he needed to learn more about photography to sell his wildlife articles, so he traveled to the Wildlife Research Station in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where he could work with some professional photographers. He seemed to be a natural, and it wasn’t long before his photographs were noticed. He was soon hired to film scenes for several of Disney’s wildlife series and films, including The Vanishing Prairie and Perri.
Garst quickly developed a passion for this line of work and began shooting stock footage of a variety of wildlife in 1956. The work that Garst produced caught the eye of NBC producer Don Meier. Meier then hired Garst to photograph an episode for the wildlife television series Zoo Parade, which was the precursor to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.
While living at home, Warren met a young woman who had hired his father as her lawyer, Genny Terrana nee Sherwin. Genny was as adventurous as Warren, and they were married May 3, 1958.
Genny worked as a computer programmer and was offered a position at CSU, teaching computer science, then part of the mathematics department in the College of Natural Sciences. Genny accepted the position at quite a reduction in salary so she could spend summers in the wild with Warren, and the couple moved to Fort Collins.
While Genny worked as an instructor, Warren took advantage of this time on campus and earned his master’s degree in zoology. By graduation in 1963, Garst was offered a full-time position as a wildlife photographer for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, which he and Meier hoped would last three years. It ended up airing for 25 years.
In 1963, Genny left her teaching position at the University to join her husband on his first African wildlife adventure. While exploring the world and its variety of wildlife, the couple produced a collection of more than 19,500 slides of what they encountered. Warren and Genny traveled to more than 100 countries during their 25-year journey.
Warren received the College of Natural Sciences Honor Alumnus Award from the Colorado State University Alumni Association in 1971, and an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from CSU in 1980.
In 1988, the couple retired and returned to Fort Collins the next year. Genny was president, vice president, and member of the scholarship selection committee in the CSU Women’s Association, while Warren became active with Rotary and wrote his book: Zoolexicon: A Comprehensive Reference of Animal Terms and Words across the English Speaking World (2006). They were a dynamic part of the community and had many close friends in the area as well as from around the world, whom they would often host in their Fort Collins home.
Records donated to CSU
Upon returning to Colorado from their world travels, Genny and Warren generously donated incredible records of their work and experiences to Colorado State University. This is exemplified by their contributions to the Morgan Library, where almost 20,000 of their slides are housed within The Warren and Genevieve Garst Photographic Collection.
Genny Garst passed away on July 9, 2013. A life celebration was held for her at the Morgan Library as well. In her memory, Warren established the Genny and Warren Garst Scholarship to benefit non-traditional undergraduate students majoring in computer science, zoology, or mathematics in the College of Natural Sciences. It is recognized as part of the philanthropic efforts of the CSU Women’s Association.
Warren and Genny Garst made a positive difference in the world and their legacy remains a treasured part of CSU. Their contributions to the Morgan Library and the College of Natural Sciences leave a lasting impact on students, the University, and the entire community.