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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

Bill Hess (1934–2021)

Bill Hess in the group photograph at the 1st IOS Conference, 1994
Bill Hess 
Courtesy of The Morton Arboretum

William "Bill" J. Hess, 87, of Crossville, Tennessee, USA passed away on June 11, 2021. Bill was one of the early members of the International Oak Society, attending the 1st Conference at The Morton Arboretum in 1994. He took part in the first planning committee tasked to organize the Society's triennial meetings. And he served as the IOS Treasurer from 2003 to 2012.

Born in Middleton, New York, Bill earned his Master's degree at the University of Washington and his PhD from the University of Oklahoma. He held teaching positions in botany at St. Mary's Seminary Junior College, the University of Oklahoma, Western New Mexico University, and Newark State University. In 1973 he joined the The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill. as Associate Taxonomist; in 1997 he became Curator of the Herbarium, a role he held till he retired in 2002. For more than four decades a collector of plants in the United States and Mexico, he is commemorated by G.L. Nesom in the botanical name Erigeron hessii, an endemic species of the Mogollon Hills of southwestern New Mexico. Bill was a Korean War veteran.

Bill co-authored over 30 plant names, among them three oaks: the endangered Quercus acerifolia and two hybrids published in an article in International Oaks No. 8: Q ×macdanielii and Q. ×warei

In a note to the IOS board about Bill’s passing, his wife Betsy remarked, “Did he love Botany!”