The University of North Carolina Herbarium has catalogued
about 50 specimens collected by R.L. McGregor. All are from the Great Plains of the United
States of America. As more of NCU’s
collection is catalogued, it is without doubt that more will be found.
specimens are widely distributed to herbaria across North America, but KANU
was his prime repository. In 1990 the botanical
collection at the University of Kansas was named the Ronald L. McGregor Herbarium.
Photograph courtesy of the
Ronald L. McGregor Herbarium, Kansas University
Freeman, Craig (2012) Ronald Leighton McGregor
1919-2012. Flora of North America
Newsletter 26(1): 14.
Ronald Leighton McGregor,
Curator Emeritus of the Ronald L. McGregor Herbarium at the University of
Kansas, died April 21, 2012, at the age of 93. Born in Green, Kansas, on April 4, 1919, he
graduated from high school in Oregon, Missouri, in 1937. He received his B.S. degree in botany from
the University of Kansas in 1941 and started graduate studies at KU that same
year. He served in the U.S. Army from
1942 to 1946, stationed most of that time in the Pacific Theater.
Ron resumed his graduate
studies at KU in 1946, completing his M.S. in 1948 and Ph.D. in 1954. He was promoted to Assistant Professor at
KU in 1954, when he also took over directorship of the herbarium, then with
about 70,000 specimens. He was promoted
to Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Botany in 1957 and to
Professor in 1961. He administered the
construction of a new botany greenhouse and a new herbarium building on KU’s
West Campus in the early 1960s. Around
that same time, he initiated systematic efforts to document he plants of the
Great Plains with financial support from the Bridwell
Foundation. The Foundation helped
underwrite field expeditions to every county in the Great Plains, garden plot
studies of range grasses, and specimen preparation into the 1980s.
Ron continued to serve as
Chair of Botany until 1969, when he became the first Chair of the Department
of Biological Sciences. He continued
in that capacity until 1973. From 1955
to 1973, he advised 21 M.A. and 19 Ph.D. students, many of whom went on to
careers in academia and science. In 1971,
he helped convene a meeting of Great Plains botanists. That group formally organized as the Great
Plains Flora Association in 1973, with Ron serving as the coordinator. The Association published the Atlas of the Flora of the Great Plains
in 1977 and the Flora of the Great
Plains in 1986.
From 1973-1983, Ron served
as the Director of the Kansas Biological Survey. In 1984, with funding from the Bridwell Foundation, he oversaw construction of an annex to
the herbarium building; the entire building was named the Joseph S. Bridwell Botany Research Laboratory in 1985. Ron continued to serve as Professor and
Curator until 1989. At his retirement
in 1989, the herbarium had grown to nearly 300.000 specimens. In 1990, the collection formally was named
the Ronald L. McGregor Herbarium and “dedicated to the study of the Great
Ron authored nearly 200 papers
and books during his career and collected nearly 42,000 specimen numbers in
the U.S. and Mexico. His duplicate
specimens are widely distributed among North American herbaria and frequently
cited in the literature. He served as
a regional reviewer for the Flora of North America project, putting his prodigious
knowledge of Great Plains plants to good use.
He also authored treatments for five genera in Hydrangeaceae;
those will be published posthumously in Volume 12. He was active at various times in more than
a dozen professional organizations.
Ron continued to work in
the herbarium nearly every day after retirement until April 2009. On rare occasions when he took time off
from the herbarium, he enjoyed fishing and working in his garden. Ron was keenly interested in Kansas
history, and he had an encyclopedic memory for dates, places, people, and
events. He is survived by his wife of
70 years, Dorothy M. McGregor.
[Dorothy Nuffer and Ronald McGregor were married 13 February
1942. R.L. McGregor is buried in
Pioneer Cemetery in Lawrence, Kansas.
The family requests that memorials be made to the Ronald L. McGregor Herbarium at the University of Kansas.]