OBITUARY

Roy Orlo Woodbury

Roy Orlo Woodbury, 88, died Sept. 21, 2002 of skin cancer. He was a resident of Palm City for 19 years, coming from Puerto Rico. He was born in Montpelier, N.D. and raised from age 3 in Redland, FL. In high school, he was the first president of the Future Farmers of America in Florida. Mr. Woodbury was active in botany in Martin County, FL and had a featured article in the News in Stuart, FL. World-renown botanist Roy Woodbury made his mark in the Caribbean by teaching thousands of students and documenting even more plants in more than 18 countries. But nature lovers on the Treasure Coast are just grateful he moved here for an active, fruitful retirement. While Woodbury's students and admirers continue to study the rare orchids, ferns and vines he pointed out on dozens of guided nature walks since moving to Palm City in 1984, his family remembers him as selfless and smiling, with an enthusiasm for botany that will live on with his spirit. "As far as the ferns, the orchids, the natives all of those things he really had a wealth of knowledge. And for his age, I had a hard time keeping up with him," said Mike Chatham, director of the Environmental Studies Center in Jensen Beach. "He will be sorely missed in the plant communities," he said. Woodbury in February received acclaim in Martin County for, after 15 years of quiet study, making public his discovery of a fern in western Palm City that was never before described in science. Another fern, the Blechnum woodburyi, is only one of the many plants named after him. Woodbury is also credited for the discovery of the Malpighia woodburyana, known as cowage cherry; Solanum woodburyi, known as Woodsbury nightshade; Lepanthus woodburyi, a kind of orchid in the rain forest of Puerto Rico; and Eugenia woodburyana, a flowering plant. In May, the Caribbean Botanic Gardens for Conservation honored him with a lifetime achievement award for his work in at least 18 different countries during his 30-year tenure as a professor and later professor emeritus with the University of Puerto Rico. Locally, Treasure Coast residents can stroll the Dr. Roy Woodbury Crooked Tree Trail in Timer Powers Park in Indiantown and peruse the list of more than 1,300 plants Woodbury documented in Martin County. His wife of 34 years, Ruth, has kept his tattered folders of botanical notes on yellow legal pad paper. "He knew every tree and every branch in Martin County," she said Monday. "That was his life." Joan Bausch, state representative of the Martin County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, said she was especially thankful for Roy Woodbury's generous nature and endless knowledge. During Woodbury's active retirement, he offered walks through the Dupuis Reserve, SeaBranch State Preserve, Jonathan Dickinson State Park and the Barley Barber Swamp near Indiantown to share what he knew with others. "He was an extremely good teacher. He was very patient," Bausch said. "We are very lucky he moved here." With his "encyclopedic mind," Woodbury was quickly teaching classes on botany, which he did for 20 years, Ruth Woodbury said. He also held an office with the U.S. Department of Natural Resources in Puerto Rico and published almost a dozen research papers before retiring to Palm City. There, he continued to share his knowledge by offering lectures at the Environmental Studies Center and becoming a mentor to students such as Greg Braun, the current executive director of the Martin County Audubon Society. "When it came down to accurately getting to know the plants, what they are and how they react in the environment, Roy was excellent," Braun said. "He helped me understand how the pieces fit together." Braun said he did not know of anyone else locally who could match Woodbury's expertise or his easy-going manner. One of his five children, Lynda, has carried on the family tradition of botany as the herbarium manager with the Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami. He received a BS in Botany from the University of Miami, a Masters from Duke University, and a PhD in Plant Ecology from Rutgers University. Prior to retirement, he was a professor of botany at the University of Miami, FL for 10 years and at the University of Puerto Rico for 30 years as a recognized expert in Caribbean plants. "The Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands," published by the New York Academy of Sciences, was dedicated to him. Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Ruth Woodbury of Palm City; sons Laurence Woodbury and Randall Woodbury, both of California, and Kimball Woodbury of Miami; daughters Lynda Woodbury of Cutler Ridge and Diane Woodbury of New Orleans; stepson Gordon Nearing of Palm City; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and four step-grandchildren

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Roy Orlo Woodbury

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