[Taxacom] Dr. John Reeder

Phil Jenkins pjenkins at email.arizona.edu
Fri Feb 13 15:18:40 CST 2009

Dr. John Reeder, famed agrostologist, passed away peacefully at his home in
Tucson, Arizona, on the evening of February 8, 2009. He was born in
Charlotte, Michigan on July 29, 1914. He grew up on a farm there, and first
went to the University at Corvallis, Oregon. It was here he met Charlotte
Goodding, whose father, Leslie Goodding, who later became a well known
botanist in southern Arizona. 
John was married to Charlotte in 1941 in Corvallis, Oregon. She was working
in the Herbarium there.  He joined the Armed Forces near the beginning of
World War II. He was stationed in New Guinea, where he collected grasses to
send back to the US Herbarium. Among his collections was Melinus repens,
which was then thought to be a native of New Guinea for a time. John was on
one of the few small Malaria Units, made up of a dozen or so people, whose
mission was Malaria Control among the troops. "Jungle  Rot," a fungal
infection became a problem for people stationed it this wet and warm place,
and many people, including John, were hospitalized because of it. He spent 6
months in Fawn General Hospital, after which he was reunited with Charlotte
and spent the summer at his folks' farm in Michigan. John was accepted at
Harvard, and he attended classes there, living on the GI bill payment and
simultaneously held a job at Jamaica Plain Herbarium, which boasted a fine
library.  He received his PhD. and worked at Yale the next 20 years,
teaching Dendrology and Plant Taxonomy through the Forestry Graduate School.
John and Charlotte left Yale in 1968 to go to Rocky Mountain Herbarium at
Laramie, Wyoming, studying grasses in his retirement. Later they moved to
Tombstone Arizona for three years.   Tombstone proved to be too far from a
major herbarium, and they moved to Tucson in 1983, to the house John and
Charlotte lived in until his death. John and Charlotte were both very active
in their older years, supplying the Herbarium with a bent toward grasses and
provided ARIZ with one of the best, and best curated, grass collections in
the world.
 In the words of one of our most active and productive botanists associated
with ARIZ, Dr. Richard Felger states "Grasses seemed like such a mystery
that I never thought I could effectively deal with them.  But that was to
change.  John and Charlotte patiently pointed out my mistakes in
identifications and where the existing keys had problems.  They demystified
grasses for me -what a privilege to get a start from the world experts.
They patiently pointed out subtleties, and are always available to help.  In
1987 John and I went on a field trip to northern Sonora. In the mountains
west of Cananea he scrambled up a rocky slope and re-discovered the
long-lost Bouteloua eludens in Mexico.  I will never forget how he whooped
and yelled:  "Eludens Hill," 27.0 km E of Cananea on Mex Hwy 2, 1524 m,
rocky south-facing slope with numerous grasses and forbes. What a privilege
that we have a world-class collection of grasses at ARIZ - due to the
devotion of Charlotte and John Reeder.  Just last week I saw John patiently
showing a student how to identify some grasses.  Their friendship and
professionalism and enthusiasm have helped shape my career." 
I will finally close by saying that Charlotte plans to continue her study of
grasses at ARIZ, identifying and publishing works on grasses.
Philip Jenkins, ARIZ

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