Karen_Wilson at RBGSYD.GOV.AU
Tue Aug 5 17:19:15 CDT 1997
Vale Lawrie Johnson
To all colleagues who knew Lawrie Johnson
Sadly, I must let you know that Lawrie died on 1 August 1997.
Johnson's career was wholly at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney,
apart from a year as Australian Botanial Liaison Officer at Kew. He
was Botanist 1948--1972, Director 1972--1985 and Honorary Research
Associate 1986--1997. On his retirement he was appointed as Director
Jointly with Lindsay Pryor of the Australian National University, and
colleagues Ken Hill and Don Blaxell, he was responsible for a major
review of Australia's largest and most characteristic tree group, the
eucalypts, distinguishing many new species and developing a
classification of all the species, as well as revising many groups of
Eucalyptus and Corymbia. I collaborated with him in studies of
Proteaceae, Myrtaceae, producing worldwide classifications and
accounts of their evolution. Our joint work on Restionaceae is still
unfinished. With Karen Wilson he worked extensively on Casuarinaceae
and Juncaceae. These were the major projects among many.
At the Royal Botanic Gardens his directorship resulted in very
significant developments in the scientific programs, better facilities
for the scientific and community programs and the collections, as well
as the development of two satellite gardens.
Lawrie's colleagues had celebrated his 70th birthday with a
festschrift issue of the Gardens' scientific journal Telopea, with
many international contributions. The University of Sydney included
him among the notable graduates featured on its home page on the World
Many of you may have heard that he was diagnosed in February this year
with multiple brain tumours, presumably derived from a melanoma.
After radiotherapy he showed remarkable recovery and worked actively
on botanical projects in his last weeks. Sadly that recovery was not
sustained and he experienced a convulsive seizure after which, over
the last few days, he did not fully regain consciousness.
He went as he would have wished, working actively on the
classification of eucalypts (on manuscripts for his joint work with
Ken Hill), and indeed planning future research on these species, to
within a few hours of his last conscious time.
He is survived by his wife Merle, who was always such a strong support
to him, sons Chris, Nicholas, Quentin and Sandy, daughter Sylvia and
grandchildren Melissa, young Quentin, Madison, Miles, Hugh, Claire,
Angharad and Callum.
Senior Assistant Director
Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
(bgb at rbgsyd.gov.au)
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