Trustee Emeritus

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Take a tour of the Dupree Nature Preserve.


“Everywhere I go, Kentucky’s lands sing to me. They make music like a grand philharmonic orchestra, deeply vibrating base strings and high contrapuntal flutes playing in unison.” – Tom Dupree

Thomas Dupree moved around as a child. He was born in Louisville, and raised in Covington and later in Cleveland, Ohio, before his family settled in Harlan County. Throughout this time, nature served as a consistent and comfortable companion, something which has never changed in all of his 83 years.

“Throughout my life, the woods have provided me with solace – it’s where I go to think,” says Dupree. “During these ‘retreats,’ I studied my surroundings – plants, wildflowers, grasses – and came to know myself.”

After attending Columbia Military Academy in Tennessee and then Yale University, where he earned an economics degree in 1952, Tom enjoyed a career heading up a nationally recognized municipal bonds brokerage firm. While successful, the busy schedule distracted him from some of his true loves – art, history and nature. 

That changed more than three decades ago, when Dupree’s son introduced him to The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky. Since then,  he has devoted significant time to the organization as a volunteer and Board member, including a stint as Board Chairman. He also hosted his conservation colleagues and cohorts for many years at his home beside the Rockcastle River.

In 2011, the Conservancy awarded him with its prestigious Dr. Bruce Poundstone Volunteer of the Year Award. 

“The Nature Conservancy serves as a heavy voice on behalf of how Kentucky’s rivers are used, building relationships and buying land when they need to,” says Dupree. “I’m proud to be part of that.”

In 2013 he became a part of that in a big way after making a gift to The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky that made it possible to establish the 300-acre Dupree Nature Preserve, a place he hopes will forever symbolize the embodiment of his appreciation for Kentucky’s beauty and grandeur.

“We’re so grateful to have had Tom’s thoughtful advice and wisdom over the years as a longtime member, past chairman of the Board and Emeritus Trustee at The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky,” says the Conservancy’s Kentucky State Director, Terry Cook. “The Dupree Nature Preserve serves as a fitting legacy we hope Tom and his family will enjoy, with great pride, for many years to come.”

Dupree is pleased, adding, “People who visit the preserve can get a deep feeling that it belongs to them, and it does. It belongs to everybody, and I hope it gives them a feeling of wealth — natural wealth.”