In memory of those members who have passed away.
- Remembering Ellen Dorn (1950 – 2023)
Ellen Dorn, a longtime member and supporter of the Arizona Native Plant Society, passed away unexpectedly on January 4, 2023, in Tucson, Arizona. Born in Philadelphia, she graduated from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania (1968) and earned a BA degree from Temple University (1980), and Masters degree in classical Persian literature from the University of Washington, and did significant work towards a Masters degree in classical Chinese literature. Ellen eventually moved west and was employed as a librarian in Seattle, Washington, for several years before moving to Flagstaff, Arizona, where she was employed as a librarian with the City of Flagstaff library system. As a young woman, she spent some time in China where she worked as an English language teacher.
In 2010, Ellen relocated to Tucson where the center of her life was either directly or indirectly associated with the University of Arizona. As someone deeply interested in medieval and ancient history, she was a frequent patron of the UA Libraries. Her other major interests were rooted in the biological sciences. She devoted much of her time as a valuable volunteer with the University Turf Farm operation and Desert Legume Program. At the UA Herbarium she volunteered two days a week engaged in various activities such as mounting plant specimens (over 10,000), helping to maintain the collection’s records, and assisting with plant identifications for herbarium visitors. Ellen was also an extremely able and valuable teaching assistant for the various general botany and plant identification courses sponsored by the Arizona Native Plant Society and the UA Herbarium. As a member of the Tucson Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society, Ellen provided articles and performed other services for the Society’s journal, Plant Press Arizona.
She was predeceased her parents, Albert and Anna Dorn, and by her brother, Michael Dorn. She is survived by a cousin in Philadelphia and her beloved dog, Bahar, who has been adopted by a friend. Ellen will be remembered as a gentle, intelligent, and scholarly friend.
- Remembering Pam McMillie
Phoenix Chapter Vice President, Pam McMillie, passed away unexpectedly in September after experiencing health issues. The loss of Pam has left us heartbroken and stunned.
Pam was our VP for 2 years and brought a wealth of experience, with a background in gardening, environmental stewardship, ecological restoration, education, and military service. We benefited from her expertise and joyful presence at our virtual Chapter meetings, and she was heading our new Outreach Committee.
If you did not have the pleasure of meeting Pam, below are links to two articles that highlight her passion for wildlife and gardening with native plants.
Also, during our Chapter meeting in August, Pam mentioned that the following 3 books “changed her understanding of the wild”:
- Where the Wild Things Were by William Stolzenburg
- What the Robin Knows by Jon Young
- The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Pam may be gone, but her giving spirit will live on through programs and activities she championed as a leader with our organization, as well as Maricopa County Parks, Phoenix Parks, the Texas Native Plant Society, and as a Master Naturalist in Arizona, Virginia, and Texas.
As stated in her obituary, “In lieu of sending flowers or other donations, please take a few minutes for yourself to enjoy a bit of the outdoors in a park or have a walk along a trail which was one of the things Pam so very much loved.”
The feature presentation of our November Chapter meeting is dedicated to Pam and her help in developing and implementing the Maricopa Pollinator Pathway. We will also remember Pam at a future Phoenix Chapter member meet up in the great outdoors.
- Remembering Nancy “Z” Zierenberg
We still feel the loss of one of our wonderful native plant warriors: Nancy “Z” Zierenberg. We reprint below the article from the Plant Press, Summer 2011, written by Greta Anderson.
Z passed away on December 2, 2010 at the age of sixty. She leaves behind her husband and partner of thirty years, Rod Mondt. She was an amazing person whose efforts to promote native plant conservation are unparalleled.
In addition to Z’s work with the Arizona Native Plant Society (AZNPS) as its State Administrative Assistant handling membership, merchandise, mailings, and outreach, she was an active and integral part of the Tucson Chapter and the Conservation Committee. She was a tireless advocate and volunteer at tabling opportunities, developing activities for kids and materials for education, constantly improving and adapting our displays. She enthusiastically participated in all the fieldtrips and represented AZNPS at tree plantings and on municipal planning committees including the campaign, “1000 Trees Please!” to plant native species in urban Tucson. She also represented AZNPS as part of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, a regional coordinated planning effort that seeks to balance development with open space.
Her native plant advocacy and interest extended to her participation in the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society, a regional group working on plant salvage and sales, to consistently volunteering at the UA Herbarium, where she enjoyed learning taxonomy while helping mount and preserve specimens. She was also active with the Florilegium Project, a botanical illustration effort, and she maintained membership in the California Native Plant Society’s Bristlecone Pine Chapter because of her affinity and affection for the taxa of the high Sierra. Because she so loved plants, she was also interested in maintaining their habitat and co-inhabitants. A founding member of Sky Island Alliance, she served on the board of that organization in various capacities until her death. She was a founder and key staff member of Wildlife Damage Review, a grassroots campaign to limit federal trapping and destruction of native wildlife at the behest of various industrial uses of public lands such as predator control for the benefit of the livestock industry. She was a member of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, an organization that uses a specific demographic and a lot of humor to advocate for change in public lands management. Additionally, she was an active member of Earth First!, believing her whole life that Nature is worth fighting for.
What Z brought to all of her many activities was an enthusiasm and “Can do” spirit that is rarely matched. She was funny and fun, always positive and encouraging and quick to laugh uproariously. She kept her word and her commitments and she was full of life, making her loss not only deeply sad but hard to fathom for those of us who knew, loved, and counted on her. We’ve got big shoes to fill, but Z would expect us to fill them, carrying forward the work of advocacy, education, appreciation, and conservation of our plant community.
- Richard Stephen Felger (1934-2020)https://www.desertfoodplants.org. Richard grew up in Los Angeles, California, where he was enamored of the ocean and its cornucopia of sea creatures. But a fortuitous trip to Álamos, Mexico with ecologists from UCLA when he was still in high school ignited his interest in the vegetation of the Sonoran desert. He chose the U of A for his university training because it was close to Guaymas and the Sea of Cortez; he would go on to write his dissertation on the flora and vegetation of the Sonoran Gulf Coast and nearby islands. His peripatetic life as a botanist led him to a short stint as a faculty member at the University of Colorado, and then as Senior Curator at the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County. Back in Tucson, Richard established the Research Department at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. He founded the Drylands Institute in 1988, serving as its director until 2007. He was also an energetic Associated Researcher at the University of Arizona Herbarium. His contributions to Sonoran and desert botany, new crops research, and ethnobotany are broad, deep, and long-lasting. But Richard was also a poet, storyteller, sea turtle conservationist, promoter of aridland crops, and loyal friend to many. He gave many talks and led numerous field trips for Arizona and New Mexico native plant societies. His floras and books were written for non-specialists, and he took great pains to avoid the technical terminology he called “botanical code language.” He was loved for his research work, his mentoring of young scientists, his sense of humor, and his eccentricities. He could be abrupt and demanding of attention, though as Jim Verrier notes, “his ‘flaws’ were endearing to those who loved him (but perplexing to strangers).” Sue Rutman notes that he welcomed collaborators on every project and “he had a warm and generous side that too few people experienced…. He wanted to help other people love plants the way he did.” Bill Broyles, coauthor and colleague, asks, “How could I ever forget a friend with the productivity and strength of a velvet mesquite, the singularity of a boojum, the curiosity of dodder, the intensity of cholla, the open smile of a Peniocereus, and the legacy of ironwood?!” Richard Felger left an indelible mark on desert botany and on botanists in the desert southwest. He will be greatly missed. — Sue CarnahanThe world lost a great desert botanist, a prolific researcher and a generous human being when Richard Felger passed away in late October 2020, at his home in Silver City, New Mexico, at the age of 86. A dedicated field botanist, Richard collected tens of thousands of plant specimens between the 1950s and 2015, many of which are housed at the University of Arizona Herbarium. He published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, wrote detailed floras for desert regions of northwestern Mexico and southwestern Arizona, and documented the ethnobotany of the Seri Indians of Sonora. This year alone, Richard finished up five major writing projects, three of which are forthcoming or already published: Field Guide to the Trees of the Gila Region of New Mexico; The Desert Edge: Flora of the Guaymas–Yaqui Region of Sonora, Mexico; and Dark Horses and Little Turtles and Other Poems from the Anthropocene. Other noteworthy publications include The Euphorbiaceae of Sonora, Mexico; Flora of the Gran Desierto and Río Colorado of Northwestern Mexico; Flora of Southwestern Arizona; Oasis at the Desert Edge: Flora of Cañón del Nacapule; People of the Desert and Sea: Ethnobotany of the Seri Indians; Plant Life of a Desert Archipelago: Flora of the Sonoran Islands in the Gulf of California; and The Trees of Sonora. Richard’s website showcases his research and writing for a variety of audiences, along with a biography and photos of friends:
- Frank S. Rose (1927 -2020)Long-time AZNPS member and Tucson botanist Frank S. Rose passed away on October 15, 2020 at his home in Tucson, surrounded by his family. Frank was a warm and steady presence at our monthly meetings, annual meetings, and other AZNPS events, greeting old friends, welcoming new ones, and sharing his insights into plant biology. Frank and his wife Louise came to Tucson in 1982, where he served as pastor of the Sunrise Chapel until 2003. Beginning in 2011, he led almost-weekly summer plant walks at locations in the Santa Catalina Mountains, taking these over from Dr. Bob Porter and from Joan Tedford. Frank was generous with his time and his knowledge, and many Tucson naturalists came to learn and appreciate the mountain flora through his efforts. He was also a talented watercolorist, an artistry that he practiced most of his life. Upon arriving in Tucson, he began painting and photographing the wildflowers of his beloved Catalinas. One day, Frank happened to meet Joan Tedford in Molino Basin, while Joan was checking on the status of a single plant of Clitoria mariana that had been sighted in the streambed. This chance encounter led to a good friendship and a rich botanical partnership on the mountain. Frank’s keen eye would often notice that certain plants seemed different, while Joan would key out and identify Frank’s many mystery plants. (While Joan would never identify herself as such, she was a very good botanist and a passionate plant person who was a botanical mentor to Frank.) The eventual 2011 publication of his book, “Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona: A Field Guide to the Santa Catalina Mountains and other Nearby Ranges,” was a culmination of Frank’s conversion to botany. He went on to author several other botanical books: “Mountain Trees of Southern Arizona,” “Small Wonders,” and most recently “Catalina Mountains: A Guide Book with Original Watercolors.” Frank’s books were notable because he had a knack for conveying botanical information in a way that made it accessible to beginning botanists. His “Small Wonders” book was especially appealing because it focused, not on the showy or dramatic species, but on small, unassuming plants, many of them weeds, that we might normally walk past or ignore. In a way, this book was a metaphor for Frank’s personality. He was completely unpretentious and utterly egalitarian. Every new person he met was a friend and fellow learner. Frank was an active member of our society and contributed his insights and enthusiasm to our meetings and our outreach. He was scheduled to lead two close-to-home plant forays last April, but these were subsequently cancelled because of the pandemic. For many of us, however, every future plant walk we make along the Catalina Highway will be a reminder of Frank’s generosity, kindness, and quiet appreciation of the beauty of plants in our lives. He will be deeply missed. Our condolences go to his family and close friends at the loss of a great spirit. Lyn Loveless and Jim Verrier