So extolled a young George Folkerts, party ram-rod with a tall cool one in hand at numerous late-night bo-zo (botany-zoology) grad student gatherings in Auburn Alabama in the early 70s. He was both friend and mentor to me, to so very many, and now he is gone. I got a call yesterday that he had died suddenly of a stroke on Friday. I’m guessing he was about 65.
He was my bio lab instructor my freshman year. He finished his PhD the next year (in zoology, though his later interests ranged all over the map–my “renaissance man” inspiration). He came back to Auburn after a year at Clemson, and served on my graduate committee.
After we moved to Virginia and I became active in the Mt. Rogers Naturalist Rally, I asked George to come as guest speaker, and that weekend, he and Debbie stayed with us in our little farmhouse near Wytheville. I haven’t seen him since but his reputation and memory among that rare species, the American Naturalist, will live on.
His knowledge was encyclopedic, his dry humor legendary and his kindness and fairness renowned. He left all who knew him and had the chance to field-trip with him a legacy of curiosity, wonder and wisdom. He will be missed. From George’s website:
Although it is not currently fashionable to be interested in teaching, I have a strong involvement in teaching. My research interests are very broad. I also spend considerable amounts of time and effort on environmental issues of many types, especially those related to disappearing habitat types and declining species. Most graduate students that work with me are interested in basic natural history and are in the program because of their love of nature, not merely because of career goals or their wishes to enhance their hireability.