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Page 137 ï~~ 2011 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST 137 IN MEMORIAM - DR. RICHARD MCNEILL Seney National Wildlife Refuge would like to recognize the work of Dr. Richard "Dick" McNeill. Dick McNeill passed away on 23 November, 2009 at the age of 83. He volunteered at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge (Seney NWR or Refuge) for nearly 16 years. These efforts produced a well-managed, professional quality, state recognized herbarium that has been, and will continue to be, a valuable asset to Refuge staff and colleagues. Seney NWR is blessed to have this herbarium for use as reference material and to help guide habitat management. The Refuge was established, in 1935, under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act; it encompasses over 95,000 acres and provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife species. Many of the vegetation communities found at the Refuge are re- Dr. Richard McNeill sources of conservation and restoration priority as they are poorly represented elsewhere in the state or nation. Four years after the Refuge was established, the herbarium collection was started. In the early 1990's a cardboard box containing these herbarium specimens was discovered and "rescued" by the administrative technician. Interest in maintaining the collection waned until the mid-1990s when Dick McNeill arrived as a volunteer and became an eager herbarium trustee. Dick McNeill grew up in Detroit, served during World War II, and earned his Doctorate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dick's academic career started by teaching in Arcadia, followed by teaching seventh grade and eventually middle school and high school biology in Traverse City. After earning his Doctorate (1971), Dick taught biology, ecology, wildlife conservation, and environmental health at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Upon retiring in 1983, Dick and his wife Elsia bought a house in Grand Marais, Michigan, about 30 miles north of Seney National Wildlife Refuge, where they spent many sum
Page 138 ï~~ 138 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST Vol. 50 mers. In 1992, Dick and Elsia moved to Grand Marais full time and sought out volunteer opportunities at the Refuge soon after. Dick brought his passion for science and teaching with him to the Refuge. He shared his knowledge and excitement with hundreds of visitors each year and had an influence on dozens of interns. Although Dick's interests varied, he had a passion for plants and a desire to do more at the Refuge. He became involved with the Refuge's herbarium collection, and for more than a decade made significant contributions to its development and organization. Dick systematically arranged all of the Refuge's existing specimens according to Gray's Manual of Botany and Michigan Flora and initiated the preparation of a digital herbarium species list allowing information to be easily retrieved. He personally collected, mounted, identified, and labeled over 200 of the specimens currently in the herbarium. When help with identification was needed, Dick corresponded with nationally recognized systematic botanist, Dr. Edward Voss (University of Michigan), to get the answers. During all this activity, Dick continued to teach young folks by regularly instructing student interns on properly preparing botanical specimens and working with them to create a usable herbarium exhibit for the Visitor Center. During his collection forays, Dick often collected and transplanted Refuge plants to the Visitor Center to help educate visitors about local flora and the benefits of landscaping with native plants. Dick's knowledge and desire to teach affected many Refuge staff, interns, and visitors. We miss his presence, appreciate his volunteer efforts, and recognize his contribution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System and the field of botany in the State of Michigan. J. Wycoff-McDonough