[Taxacom] Mycologist Ernst Both

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Tue Aug 28 11:40:21 CDT 2012

For those on this list familier with fungal systematics, particularly the
Boletes group, I am sad to say that Ernst Both passed away on Sunday. He
was an extremely supportive and kind individual who embodied the best of
what it is to be a scientist and human being. He told many fascinating
stories, including some gruesome ways to due if one ate the wrong kind of
mushroom. He also once told me that he was 'priviliged' to have been shot
at by the Germans, Russians, and Americans during WWII. The science of
fungal systematics was all the better off for his survival. He will be
greatly missed. The obituary below is from a local paper today.

John Grehan

*Ernst E. Both, scientist, administrator at Buffalo Museum of Science,

June 1, 1930 - Aug. 26, 2012

Ernst E. Both, a distinguished scientist, educator and administrator at the
Buffalo Museum of Science, died Sunday in Mercy Hospital. He was 82.

A resident of North Collins, Mr. Both was born in Carpinis in western
Romania. He fled to Austria with his parents and older sister in 1944 after
the advancing German army ordered an evacuation of his village. There he
studied astronomy for four years at an "underground university" before he
and his family immigrated to Buffalo in March 1950. The family was assisted
in their passage by the late Ralph W. Loew of Buffalo's Holy Trinity
Lutheran Church, with the financial support of the late Margaret L. Wendt

Mr. Both joined the museum in 1959 as curator of astronomy. He was acting
director of the museum three times, including a nine-month term in 2000
after he retired. He served as director from 1984 until his retirement in

Among his accomplishments was the inauguration of the successful traveling
exhibit program that started with robotic dinosaurs in 1987. With funding
from the Junior League, an education wing was added to the Makowski Visitor
Center at Tifft Nature Preserve in 1990. The most significant initiative in
the modern history of the museum, the opening of the Charles R. Drew
Science Magnet School, the first public school in the country to be
physically joined and programmatically linked to a museum of natural
science, occurred in 1991.

He earned his bachelor's degree in modern languages with a minor in biology
at the University at Buffalo, followed two years later with a master's
degree in medieval languages. Mr. Both suspended his doctoral studies at
Washington University in St. Louis to return to Buffalo to accept
appointment as curator of astronomy.

During the early years of his career, Both taught German, astronomy and
mycology at UB, Buffalo State College, D'Youville College, Canisius College
and the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary in Buffalo and at Washington

Both opened the museum's Solar Observatory in 1967, where he skillfully
interpreted the wonders of the solar system and the universe to thousands
of Western New Yorkers as they peered through the 8-inch Lundine refractor
during his ever-popular Friday night viewings at the museum's Kellogg
Observatory. He also ran summer sun shows in the Solar Observatory and
dealt expertly with the immense public interest aroused by the appearance
of the comets Kohoutek and Halley.

He was the author or co-author of about 25 papers on boletes, and left an
indelible imprint on the study of boletology with his monumental 1993 book,
"The Boletes of North America - A Compendium." In recognition of his
contributions to the field, three colleagues named a new genus of bolete,
Bothia, in his honor in 2007.

Mr. Both received a Western New York Pioneers of Science award from the
Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute in 2006.

Mr. Both consulted on dozens of cases of mushroom poisonings with the
Poison Control Center at Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo.

He also served his local community for many years as a member of the North
Collins School Board and the Eden-North Collins Rotary Club.

He was married to the former Billie Viommerstedt, who died in 2007.

Survivors include two daughters, Elfie Kaczanowksi and Ingrid.

Memorial services will be conducted at 10 a.m. Friday in Wentland Funeral
Home, 10634 Main St., North Collins.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list