Campus News

Former herbarium curator and botany professor dies

Wilbur H. Duncan, 94, of Athens, Professor Emeritus of Botany and retired curator of the UGA Herbarium, died at home with his family on March 25.

Duncan, born in Buffalo, N.Y., earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University in 1932 and 1933. He acquired his Ph.D in botany at Duke University in 1938 and then moved to Athens where he began a distinguished 40-year teaching and research career at UGA.

Duncan served in the Public Health Service during World War II, leaving the service at the end of the war with the rank of major. He returned to UGA to resume not only his teaching and research, but also his direction and enlargement of the herbarium. He had assumed responsibility for the herbarium in 1939 and continued until he retired in 1978 with emeritus status.

In 1975 the UGA Press published his Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States, co-authored with his wife, Marion, also a professional botanist. Together they also wrote three other major botany field guides: Seaside Plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, Trees of the Southeastern United States and Wildflowers of the Eastern United States. All three books are still in print, and Wildflowers continues to be a best-seller. A fourth manuscript is nearing publication.

A memorial service will be held on April 9 at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Athens, 780 Timothy Road.