Gerald Straley, a leading authority on native B.C. and Canadian plants, died on Dec. 11 after a lengthy illness. He was 52.
Straley was curator of collections and a research scientist at the UBC Botanical Garden and was renowned as one of North America's most distinguished taxonomists. He also served as honorary director of the Herbarium in the Dept. of Botany.
During his career, Straley wrote many articles and papers for journals, as well as Vascular Plants of B.C. and Flora of the UBC Endowment Lands. He also served as a major editor and author on the multi-volume publication, The Flora of North America.
Probably the publication he enjoyed writing most was his award-winning book, The Trees of Vancouver. During his illness, he was compiling notes for a second volume.
Straley was born in Virginia and completed his BSc degree in Ornamental Horticulture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He later went to Ohio University to study for his MSc in Botany.
He came to Vancouver as education co-ordinator at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. During this time he completed his PhD at UBC under the guidance of Roy Taylor. He joined UBC in 1982.
Straley was a brilliant and respected teacher and had a special way of relating to academics, students and the gardening and nursery communities.
A memorial fund has been set up in his memory. Donations can be made to the UBC Botanical Garden, c/o Bruce Macdonald, Director, UBC Botanical Garden, 6804 Southwest Marine Drive, Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4.
A celebration of his life will be held at the UBC Botanical Garden from 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 31.