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Friday, February 17, 2012

Remembering Ed Voss

Ed Voss, author of the three-volume Michigan Flora, died earlier this week. Some years ago I was fortunate to take his field class "Boreal Flora," which he took tremendous pleasure in teaching every summer at the University of Michigan Biological Station. And when I found myself stumped on the identity of some plant,  I would visit him on occasion at his office at the University Herbarium.

Ed was a private individual, and he was particular about things. When his office was moved from central campus to location off Ellsworth, he made sure that his books were all put back in the same order on the shelves, and that the shelves were similarly ordered. Exactly once a week he took dinner at the Old Country Buffet. When someone would act as housesitter, Ed would present them with a small booklet of fine details and instructions. Of course this character trait was essential for any individual who would serve as chairman of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, which Ed did for six years.

I think of Ed Voss whenever I visit the shores of the Great Lakes. I have never known anyone as passionate in their love and defense of a 'place.' To him there could be no greater crime that causing damage to such an environment. 

I just pulled out my autographed copy of the first volume of Michigan Flora from my shelf.  Date of publication is 1972 (what I call the height of the '60s). The third and final volume ("Dicots concluded") came 26 years later. Tony Reznicek informs me that Ed and he just completed a condensed single volume of the work. Michigan Flora was his life's work.

The formal notice of Dr Voss' passing follows:
"Eminent Michigan botanist and long standing expert on nomenclature, Edward G. Voss passed away Feb. 13, 2012, a few days short of his 83rd birthday. Born in Delaware, Ohio, Ed spent his entire professional career, including a productive retirement that began in 1996, at the University of Michigan, studying the plants and Lepidoptera of his adopted state. He is best known among botanists for his three volume Michigan Flora, plus his work on botanical history, especially his "Botanical Beachcombers," and for his long service to the International Association of Plant Taxonomy, serving as secretary of the editorial committee of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature from 1969 to 1981 and chairman from 1981 to 1987. Ed also had a strong interest in Lepidoptera, publishing a number of papers on the butterflies and moths of northern Michigan. He was a highly skilled field botanist and collector, a dedicated teacher who was very focused on showing students the living plants in their natural settings, especially during his many summers teaching at the University of Michigan Biological Station, and a strong advocate for plants and their environments."

1 comment:

  1. Still have one of his textbooks from my college days. RIP Ed.