Prof. Guido Nonveiller (1913-2002)

Aleksandar Cetkovic acetkov at BF.BIO.BG.AC.YU
Tue Apr 16 11:26:51 CDT 2002

Dear All,
With deepest regret, I have to confirm a very sad and
distressful information, already mentioned via ENTOMO-L: our
colleague Prof. GUIDO NONVEILLER passed away on April 07 (about
two months before his 89th birthday), after the short period of
seemingly moderate illness. Until very recently, he was in
rather good general condition (particularly with respect to his
age) and in cheerful working mood (as always). Thus, his death
happened quite unexpectedly for all of us here, after the
complications following the recent surgery on abdomen, which
firstly appeared as successful. The memorial service (organized
by the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade – the last
institution of his professional affiliation in Yugoslavia, and
the Entomological Society of Serbia), as well as the ceremony of
cremation, were held on April 12, 2002.

Guido Nonveiller is survived by his wife Nadezda (Nada),
daughter Jelena, son Vladan, and four grandchildren. Condolence
messages (preferably in French) may be sent to his home e-mail
address (nonveill at EUnet.yu), which will be received by his wife
Nada, and also forwarded to other members of the family (living
in Canada).

Within the field of Entomology, Prof. Guido Nonveiller will be
remembered as the world authority on the African and Palaearctic
Mutillidae and Bradynobaenidae (Hymenoptera), as a leading
specialist for several groups of Coleoptera of the Balkans and
some adjacent areas (in particular: all the diverse lineages of
troglobitic and endogean fauna, some Rhizotrogini scarabs,
Alticine chrysomelids, etc.), as a prominent expert in economic
entomology of his time (taught and practiced 1945-1975, at
universities/institutes in Yugoslavia, Tunisia and Cameroon) and
the founder of the system of plant protection service within the
territory of the former Yugoslavia (SFRY) after the WW2, as an
inspirer and organizer of several large-scale faunistic projects
in the framework of ex-Yugoslav entomological community, as an
extraordinary successful general collector of many groups of
insects (a number of his specimens being later described as new
taxa by various authors), and for many other aspects of his
fruitful, successful and inspiring life. Prof. Nonveiller was
well-known for strong commitment to his scientific (and other)
goals and for his persistent and concentrated efforts to
accomplish the best possible result in all facets of his
endeavor, resulting in: more than 130 publications on various
entomological subjects, comprising more than 4,000 printed pages
(over the period 1935-2002); description of over 35 new
genera/subgenera (plus more than 50 recognized but not yet
described ones) and about 300 new species-group taxa (plus more
than 200 recognized but not yet described ones); assembling of
the world’s largest collection of African mutillids (including
more than 120,000 specimens collected by himself in Cameroon);

It seems worth mentioning that, despite his age, Prof.
Nonveiller was among the world pioneers in application of
personal computers in entomology: starting with the famous
Commodore 64 in 1983, he ended with two state-of-the-art PCs,
locally networked with a laser and an ink-jet printer, and a
scanner with capacity for specimen processing, all in his "home
laboratory" in Zemun; in late 1980's, he even undertook the
personal layout-editing of several books, either authored or
edited by himself, then quite a challenging task.

Born in the city of Rijeka, 1913 (then in Austro-Hungary, later
in Italy, in Yugoslavia and now in Croatia), Guido Nonveiller
lived in several countries over his lifetime, and during this
period some of the places of his residence changed their
official country affiliation: Austro-Hungary (1913-1918: Rijeka,
Mostar, Körmönt, Vienna – now in four different countries); Free
Town of Rijeka (1918-1921); Austria (1921-1926: Vienna); "First"
Yugoslavia (1926-1937: Split, Zagreb, Zemun); Spain (1937-1939:
civil war –  "Interbrigades"); France (1939-1945: first in
prison camp and afterwards in the Resistance Movement); "Second"
Yugoslavia (1945-1960: Zemun); Tunisia (1960-1962); Cameroon
(1962-1975); "Second" Yugoslavia (1975-1992: Zemun); France
(1992-1996: Paris); "Third" Yugoslavia (1996-2002: Zemun).
Following his entomological interests, Nonveiller traveled to
many more countries worldwide, visiting numerous institutions,
colleagues, conferences, etc.

The peculiar and winding pathways of his private life and
professional career made it possible for him to become a genuine
polyglot, who could actively use the most of the major world
languages; he wrote and published in German, French, English,
Italian, Spanish and Serbo-Croatian, and could easily understand
Portuguese, Russian, Czech, and many other Slavic languages. His
clear mind, an enormous determination for work and an open
attitude for the new ideas and novel technologies, enabled Guido
Nonveiller to never actually cease his studies; the mentioned
surgery he regarded as just an unavoidable pause in his
ambitious research agenda for this and coming years, including
numerous projects planned in collaboration with younger
colleagues from Yugoslavia (Serbia), Croatia, France, Italy,
Czech and Slovak Republics, Germany, South Africa, etc. His most
recent scientific correspondence included more than 100 people

It is certainly not over-exaggerated to declare him as the most
successful and universal entomologist ever originated from
within the territory of former Yugoslavia, and one of the
greatest entomologists of the 20th century. I regret to say that
such an appreciation and recognition of his overall work and
accomplishments in development of various aspects of entomology
(taxonomy, faunistics, applied entomology) were not always
appropriately valued in parts of the local scientific

I had the great honour and priceless privilege to collaborate
with Prof. Nonveiller during the previous 15 years (with some
interruptions), in several of his numerous projects on the
Mutillidae (many of which not yet finished, few just in press).
His great knowledge and experience, outstanding working energy
and efficiency, his friendly attitude and generous willingness
to help, support, and encourage all the colleagues, were
invaluable for my preceding work in entomology (likewise for
many others who have had the pleasure to professionally
communicate with him), and the memory of his ways will be the
prime inspiration for my further efforts; this also includes the
obligation to give my best for the continuation of as many as
possible of Nonveiller's projects and initiatives. The death of
Prof. Nonveiller is inevitably the major loss to the study of
the Mutillidae (as well as for the study of the cryptobiontic
Coleoptera in the Balkans), and certainly to all of us who have
known him.

I am sorry that I was not able, for several technical reasons,
to relay this text somewhat earlier to the worldwide audience (I
only briefly informed a number of his colleagues). Now I may
announce a more comprehensive biography, which will be available
for distribution in a due course, supplied with the updated
bibliography of Prof. Nonveiller. Also, as soon as possible, in
coordination with his family I will provide more details about
the status of collection, loans, manuscripts/projects, etc.;
interested colleagues may redirect further communication and
diverse questions about the specific issues relevant for
Nonveiller's studies on Mutillidae to myself, and those
concerning his various Coleoptera studies to Dragan Pavicevic
(Institute of Nature Protection of Serbia; temporary via my

Dr. Aleksandar Cetkovic, Assistant Professor
Institute of Zoology,
Dep't of Biology, Univ. of Belgrade
Studentski trg 16
11000 Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)
tel: (381 11) 637024
fax: (381 11) 638500
e-mail: cetkovic at, acetkov at

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