Following his passion for nature, Hugo will study Wildlife Management at the University of Wisconsin. Student life takes some getting used to. After the tension and dangers he has endured since his escape from occupied territory, he finds it difficult to form himself in the order and regularity of the lecture halls. Hugo is not a model student. Stubborn as he is, Hugo Wilmar has difficulty with theoretical subjects. The practicalities, outside in nature, suit him better.
“I am doing very well, although the courses are only so-so. Due to a lack of time I had to drop botany and I still can't finish half of it and the work is piling up in legendary dimensions. The bad thing is that everything here is outrageously expensive and I have to spend more than half of my time to be able to provide for the essential livelihood. In addition, I can't exactly say that Joe hickey and Bob McCabe (the 2nd professor) go to great lengths to make it as easy as possible for me; on the contrary, I have not yet seen any sign of interest on their part. ”
- Quote letter from Hugo Wilmar, November 29, 1951
As a side job, Hugo works as a photographer at the University News Service. He also finds a job with the Wisconsin Conservation Department. For them, he updates waterfowl kill rates during the hunting season. He regularly sells self-written articles and photo reports to Dutch and American magazines. Through his old employer, Publisher de Spaarnestad he still does a few assignments on a freelance basis.
In the summer of 1952, Hugo Wilmar was commissioned to study the migration behavior of moose in Newfoundland. In the silence of the inhospitable landscape, Hugo has for the first time in his adult life the space to reflect on both the past years and his future. Hugo (finally) settles down. He uses the time in isolation to photograph himself using the natural environment and a cable release. The period of reflection and isolation marks a turning point in the life of Hugo Wilmar.
Hugo likes the outdoors like never before. Contact with his professors is improving. During a hunting trip, Joseph Hickey and Hugo, along with Robert Ellarson (both working at the University of Wisconsin), rescue a trapped beaver. Hugo writes an article Outdoor Life about the incident. The text and photos are posted in September 1952.
Mary and Hugh
Hugo changes his name to Hugh, as it is easier to pronounce in English. With his regained inner peace, doors now seem to open for him. He enjoys his studies more and gets on better with his professors. On the university campus, he meets his future wife, Mary Price.
Especially with Robert McCabe Hugh was fine with it. McCabe introduces Hugo Wilmar to Tom McHugh. McHugh was one of the photographers and cameramen at Disney. In 1953 Hugo Wilmar gets a job at the Walt Disney Company.
Frits Rudolf Ruys Boys Camp
In the summer of 1953, Hugo Wilmar returns to the Netherlands to visit his family. In August he makes a film of the Frits Rudolf Ruys Boys Camps. These camps were founded after the war by Jan Woldijk for the sons of deceased members of the resistance from the war. Hugo makes the film in return for the help that Jan Woldijk offered him his escape from occupied territory. Hugo writes the script, stages, films and edits the 12-minute film before returning to the University of Wisconsin.
From the Netherlands, Hugo Wilmar completes his application to the Disney family. Disney is looking for a wildlife filmmaker and photographer. With the help of Bob McCabe, the University of Wisconsin, and the photographs from Hugo's Spaarnestad period, he is hired. In 1954 Hugo definitely returns to America.