Galen Smith

botanists at Allen Creek, June 2008

Galen Smith (left) with friends, botanizing at Allen Creek, Jefferson Co., WI, June 2008

Galen Smith died this past Friday at the age of 89.  I will remember his warmth, enthusiasm, humor, his sharp and discerning eye.  Many discovered the wonder of wetlands and aquatic plants through him, but none understood them better.  He was a teacher, a mentor and a friend.  He was active in the field until recently, and was a powerful advocate for conservation over his long career.  He served in the Air Force, lived and conducted extensive field research in Alaska and California, and went on to teach for many years at UW-Whitewater.  He introduced his students to the rich and diverse fens around Whitewater and was a major force in their conservation, and was an internationally recognized expert in two of the most important families of wetland plants, Typhaceae and Cyperaceae.   Galen introduced me to Sparganium, the bur reeds, which under his guidance became the focus of my graduate research.  Galen was always happy to talk plants, and we spent many many hours doing so!  He was generous with his time and enjoyed spending it with his family, with his friends, and in the outdoors.  He will be deeply missed.