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Robert Francis Betz AMP ’44

Robert Francis Betz AMP ’44, April 2, 2007, at home in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. Bob attended Reed for a year (1943–44) in the premeteorology program, and returned for additional coursework in summer 1947. He received a PhD from Illinois Institute of Technology, where he met fellow student Eleanor Pratscher. The couple were married for 55 years. Bob taught biology and molecular biology at Northeastern Illinois University, retiring as professor emeritus, and devoted his time to prairie conservation. Nicknamed Mr. (or Dr.) Prairie, Bob had a lifelong interest in native prairie gardens: he studied patches of land in Midwest cemeteries and along railroad tracks, collected seeds, developed restoration techniques, and inspired the work of others. His efforts preserved over 40 cemetery prairies and the 240-acre Gensburg-Markham Prairie in Markham, Illinois, which was declared a National Natural Landmark in 1998. At the Fermi National Accelerator Lab (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, he assisted the restoration of more than 1,000 acres of native prairie. Survivors include his wife, three daughters, seven grandchildren, three sisters and a brother.

Appeared in Reed magazine: November 2007

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