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Angus Kemp Gholson Jr.

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Angus Kemp Gholson, Jr.

Angus was born on September 24, 1921 and died peacefully on January 15, 2014 at the age of 92 in his home surrounded by family.

He was a legendary botanist, conservationist, story-teller, and witty southern gentleman with a great sense of humor. His love of nature and his lifelong quest to acquire and share his knowledge of botany brought him much joy, and earned him many opportunities, accolades, honors, and awards. This will be his legacy for generations to come.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Angus Kemp "Happy" Gholson, and Annie May McDonald Scarborough Gholson; and his 5 siblings, Edgar Warren Scarborough, Martha Scarborough Frazier, Sue Scarborough Woodbery, Elise Scarborough Condo Lee, and David Sidney Gholson.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 70 years, Mary "Eloise" Eubanks Gholson of Chattahoochee, Florida; his two children, Laura Gholson Smith (Jerry) of Alachua, Florida, and Angus "Kemp" Gholson, III of Chattahoochee, Florida; his 4 granddaughters, May McDonald Smith Weber (Tim) of Tampa, Florida, Tara Antoinette Gholson Kirk (Kip) of Kathleen, Georgia, Marjorie Eloise Smith Drummond (Gray) of Chiefland, Florida, and Laura Elizabeth Gholson Croley (Will) of Tallahassee, Florida; and his 7 great-grandchildren, Austin Tyler Kirk (11), Kay Eloise "Elle" Drummond (7), Elise Claire Weber (7), Andrew Smith Weber (5), Kate Graham Drummond (4), Elizabeth Ann Kirk (4), and Wilson Mahaffey Croley (1).

Angus graduated from Chattahoochee High School in 1941, and was the quarterback and co-captain of the National Championship Six Man Football Team there. He then attended the University of Florida on a football scholarship. His college career was interrupted in 1942 by World War II when he joined the United States Air Force. He served his country for 3 years as a navigator and bombardier in B-24 flights over Germany. He completed 30 lead missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross Award. He returned to the University of Florida after the war and earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 1948 with honors.

Angus' first job out of college was as a forester with the St. Joe Paper Company in Bay County, then for a short time, he served as horticulturalist at the Apalachee Correctional Institution. He later managed Lake Seminole, a reservoir created by a dam where the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers meet to form the Apalachicola River, until he retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1983 after 30 years of service. While with the Corps of Engineers, Angus began helping scientists who were cataloging plants. After retirement, he began his second career as a botanist. With a home office and library equipped with a microscope, he started his own herbarium and collected and preserved over 19,000 specimens, mostly of plants and flora collected from around the North Florida region. His notable collection was gifted to the University of Florida in 2008 and is housed there today.

Except during his college career and military service, he lived his entire life in his childhood family home on Bolivar Street in his beloved hometown of Chattahoochee, Florida. Angus and Eloise have hosted thousands of visitors there from around the world who were interested in learning from him with gracious southern hospitality.

He gave countless hours in many capacities to the Florida and Georgia Chapters of The Nature Conservancy, Tall Timbers Research Station, the Apalachicola National Forest, the Florida Department of Natural Resources, the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, the Walker Cancer Research Institute, and the Division of Parks and Recreation for the State of Florida.

Of the many honors and awards that were bestowed upon him during his life, the following made him the most proud. Three species of plants are named for Angus: Liatris gholsonii, Carex gholsonii, and Hymenocallis gholsonii. The City of Chattahoochee named the local Nature Park after him in 2003 "to honor an indefatigable field botanist and Chattahoochee's most famous citizen."

Angus was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church in Chattahoochee. He was gifted in composing and delivering heartfelt and memorable prayers, and did so at many a large family gathering, including holiday meals, wedding rehearsal dinners, and wedding receptions. He delivered smiles with his handwritten get well and thank you letters. He captured attention with his respect for nature, and his charismatic and clever delivery of one of a kind stories. He delighted in the experience of eating simple and traditional southern food, had a huge sweet tooth, and savored a cold "Coca-cola."

As his soul slipped to heaven, Angus surely whispered one last time "Cuz, you hold 'em in the road" to those he left behind that brought him so much happiness, care, attention and love throughout his 92 years on this earth.

A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at the First United Methodist Church of Chattahoochee, 18 W. Marion Street, Chattahoochee, FL 32324. The family will receive visitors immediately following the service.

Funeral arrangements are being made by Lanier Andler Funeral Home, Sneads, FL.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in memory of Angus K. Gholson, Jr. to the First United Methodist Church of Chattahoochee, 18 W. Marion Street, Chattahoochee, FL 32324; the Northwest Florida Division of the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, 222 S. Westmonte Drive, Suite 300, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714; and the City of Chattahoochee Angus Gholson Nature Park, P.O. Box 188, Chattahoochee, FL 32324.

Published in Tallahassee Democrat on Jan. 16, 2014
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