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Heckard, Lawrence R. (1923-1991) | University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley

Name: Heckard, Lawrence R. (1923-1991)
Fuller Form: Heckard, Lawrence Ray

Historical Note:

Lawrence Ray Heckard was born in Long Beach, Washington on April 9, 1923.  He attended Lower Columbia Junior College in Longview and the University of Washington before serving in the Army during World War II. After the war he completed his B.S. at Oregon State College in 1948 and went on to graduate work in Botany at the University of California, Berkeley.  While at Berkeley he met his life partner Paul Silva, a fellow botany graduate student.  The Department of Botany at the University of Illinois hired Silva in 1952 and Heckard joined him in 1954, finishing his dissertation "Studies in the Phacelia magellicanica complex (Hydrophyllaceae), with particular reference to the California members" in 1955. Heckard was then hired as an  assistant professor at Illinois where he taught taxonomy and supervised the laboratory sections of the general botany course.

In 1960 Heckard and Silva returned to Berkeley when Heckard was hired as the assistant to Rimo Bacigalupi, the curator of the Jepson Herbarium, and Silva was hired as the assistant to George Papenfuss, curator of algae for the University Herbarium.  Bacigalupi retired in 1968 and Heckard was promoted to curator, a position which he held until his death in 1991.

As curator of the Jepson Herbarium, Heckard's research interests included the family Scrophulariaceae with an emphasis on the genera Castilleja, Cordylanthus, and Orthocarpus. He was active in the development of the rare plant program of the California Native Plant Society and wrote several status reports om rare and endangered species.  As an expert on the flora of California, he was an integral part in the effort to revise Jepson's Manual of the Flowering Plants of California. The revised Jepson Manual, published in 1993, was posthumously dedicated to Heckard.

Heckard was the secretary of the American Society of the Plant Taxonomists and president of the California Botanical Society. He was elected a fellow of both the California Native Plant Society and the California Academy of Sciences.

He passed away from AIDS-related causes in Berkeley in 1991.  He generously established the Lawrence R. Heckard Endowment Fund of the Jepson Herbarium, which provides funding for UC Berkeley faculty, students, and staff to conduct research on the systematics of California’s vascular plants.

Sources: Silva, Paul C., Tsan-Iang Chuang, Lincoln Constance, Susan D'Alcamo, and James C. Hickman. Lawrence Ray Heckard: Berkeley. University of California: In Memoriam, 1992.

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