Botanist, biologist, birder Bruce D. Parfitt of Johnson, Vermont died at Vermont Respite House in Williston Thursday morning, September 3, 2009. He was 56.
Among colleagues at the University of Michigan-Flint he was a valued faculty member for 14 years, chair of the biology department from 2004-2007 and director of the university’s herbarium, whose collection grew in size and value under his care.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean D.J. Trela said of his passing, “Bruce was a dedicated teacher, often engaging his students in ongoing research projects, and a prolific scholar in the area of plant taxonomy. I deeply regret Dr. Parfitt’s death, and certainly extend my sincere sympathy to all his students and colleagues in the Biology Department, and across the University.”
Among fellow plant systematists and professionals, he was best known for his co-authorship of the definitive work on cacti – volume four of the prestigious compendium “Flora of North America” published by Oxford University Press that reflects his discovery of new species and encyclopedic knowledge.
It was while working as a field biologist in 1979 for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that helicoptered in to hike the remote Hualapai Mountains to collect, identify and preserve rare species. What he discovered was eventually named a new species, Potentilla demotica.
Also among his contributions to his field are: chapters on several other plant families for “The Flora of North America” and “The Jepson Manuals” (a series on the plants of California) and articles in some 40 peer-reviewed journals and publications.
Prior to joining the faculty of UM-Flint, he was a research botanist for the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, and a scientific editor of “Flora of North America” headquartered at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Many friends have posted at http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/Bruce_Parfitt/homepage.aspx