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Beatrice Willard

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WILLARD, BEATRICE Ph.D Dr. Beatrice E. Willard, known to family, friends, and colleagues as Bettie, or Bea, died of natural causes at age 77 in the company of friends on Tuesday, January 7, 2003, at her residence in the Wellspring Memory Care Center, Louisville. She was born to Stephen H. Willard and Beatrice Armstrong Willard in Palm Springs, California on December 19, 1925. Boulder, Colorado had been her home base since 1957. Her life was one of vast accomplishments in her pioneering work as a botanist, ecologist, advocate, educator, and author. She was a devoted daughter; a kind, loyal, generous friend; a beloved teacher; a faithful Christian Scientist; and a caring, philanthropic member of her community. Bettie grew up in a family that inspired and nurtured her early interests in the beauty and wonders of nature. At an early age her mother, a teacher, and her father, a landscape photographer/painter, encouraged her to explore and read about the plants, animals, mountains, and lakes where she lived winters in the Palm Springs desert, and summers in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes. Her growing awareness of a pristine wilderness focused through the sensitive, keenly intelligent eyes of her father, set the stage for her life's mission. At age 12 her natural genius, spirit of adventure, and gift for leadership, had her guiding people around Mammoth Lakes, and educating them about the terrain. By age 18 she had developed a sizable guiding business. Bettie's prodigious educational achievements include a B.A. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, 1947; a Certificate of Completion from the Yosemite Field School of Natural History, 1948; and a General Secondary Credential, University of California, Berkeley, 1949. A pivotal opportunity came in the 1950's when she received a Fellowship from the Ford Foundation to pursue botanical studies in Europe for 14 months where contact with eminent ecological scientists influenced the future direction of her work, and eventually led to her mentor, Dr. John Marr, founder and director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder. It was here Bettie earned an M.A. in Botany (Plant Ecology), in 1960, and a Ph.D. in Botany (Plant Ecology) in 1963, while serving as a research assistant for the Institute, and a teaching assistant for the Department of Biology. Bettie once wrote about her "driving desire to contribute good to the world." Her good works were bountiful, and would take many pages to describe. Perhaps of greatest note was her unique 40 years of tundra plant research on Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park which led to the creation of a trail system and the slow recovery of the tundra. She also initiated, organized and taught the popular summer seminars in Alpine and Mountain Ecology for Rocky Mountain Nature Association; served as the first executive director for Thorne Ecological Institute, and later President and Vice-President; founded, and co-chaired the influential Seminar on Environmental Arts and Sciences (S.E.A.S.) for national and international policy and decision-makers in Aspen; established, with Estella Leopold, the Florissant Fossil Lake Beds National Monument, for which they were awarded the Colorado Wildlife Federation's Conservationist of the Year Award; served on Nixon and Ford President's Second Council on Environmental Quality for five years where she was a major influence in setting standards for protecting the environment in the design and construction of the Alaska Pipeline; and created the very successful Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering Ecology at Colorado School of Mines, for which the United Nations presented her with the Outstanding Environmental Leadership Award. In addition, she co-authored four popular books, A Guide to the Mammoth Lakes Sierra with Dean Rinehart and Elden Vestal (1959), Land Above The Trees with A.N. Zwinger (1972), A Roadside Guide To Rocky Mountain National Park with Susan Quimby Foster (1990), and Plants of Rocky Mountain National Park with Linda H. Beidleman and Richard G. Beidleman (2000); as well as numerous articles and papers for a variety of publications. Family and friends are invited to gather together at the Community House in Chautauqua Park in Boulder on Sunday, January 26 at 2 p.m. to honor and celebrate Bettie's life. Donations, rather than flowers, can be made on behalf of Dr. Beatrice E. Willard to the C.U. Foundation for the John W. Marr Memorial Ecology Fund, P.O. Box 1140, Boulder, CO 80306-1140.
Published in Denver Post on Jan. 15, 2003
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