Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Remembering Dr. Sylvia "Tass" Kelso

by Denise Culver, CNHP Wetland Ecologist

Sylvia "Tass" Kelso, Professor Emeritus at Colorado College, passed away on June 8, 2016 after an 18-month struggle with pancreatic cancer.

Since 1987 she was a member of the faculty at Colorado College, teaching courses in botany, conservation, and evolutionary biology, among others, and was Curator of the Carter Herbarium (COCO). She was dedicated to sharing her enthusiasm and teaching about plants with students and with the public.

Awards and honors include the Colorado College Burlington Northern Award for Faculty Achievement in Teaching (1992); the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor at Colorado College (1992--1994); the Verner Z. Reed Professor of Natural Sciences endowed position (2004--2007); and she was recognized as Outstanding Volunteer by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

Tass’s botanical specialties included the systematics and reproductive biology of the Primulaceae, on which she authored numerous papers. She also studied and published papers on the arctic and alpine flora and its phytogeography, the floras of southeastern Colorado and the Pikes Peak region, edaphic endemism, grasslands, the influence of Quaternary environments on plant distributions, plant reproductive biology, and the continuing importance of floristic exploration. Her research on Primulaceae has resulted in most of her contributions, culminating most recently in treatments of Primula, Androsace, and Douglasia in Volume 8 of Flora of North America and Dodecatheon and Primula in the revision of the Jepson Manual of the flora of California.

Tass and her husband George Maentz have been wonderful supporters of CNHP for over 20 years. The “Bed and Breakfast on Mesa Road” in Colorado Springs is a favorite with staff. Several CNHP staff have been students of Tass over the years, so Tass’s legacy continues. On a personal note, one of my favorite memories is of Tass running through the short willows (Salix glauca) on the South slope of Pike’s Peak with her plant collection bag bouncing along her side!

Tass’s botanical expertise, intellect, and friendship will be greatly missed.

Tass Kelso (right) and Denise Culver (left) collecting cut-leaved groundsel (Senecio eremophilus) on the south slope of Pike's Peak. 

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