[Syrphidae] Re: Dick Vockeroth's passing

ximo mengual sanchis xmengual at gmail.com
Sat Nov 17 09:27:45 GMT 2012

Very sad news, Jeff. Diptera community has lost one of the most influent
workers of the last 60 years. My deepesr condolences to his family and
El 17/11/2012 02:58, "Jeff Skevington" <jhskevington at gmail.com> escribió:

> Richard (Dick) Vockeroth, 2 May 1928 to 16 November 2012
>      The Diptera community suffered a great loss today. Dick Vockeroth
> passed away on the morning of November 16th 2012, at the age of 84.
> Almost everyone who studies flies knew Dick, and most of us have some
> hilarious Vockeroth stories that will undoubtedly continue on for
> several generations. His breadth of knowledge was unsurpassed and many
> of us owe him considerably as a mentor. He always amazed us by seeming
> to know something about virtually every fly species put in front of
> him. Of course, putting a fly in front of Dick was just the excuse to
> open the floodgates. For those who could concentrate for long enough,
> his stories always had a point. They could continue for a long time,
> but they always wound back to where they started, completing another
> lesson for those willing to listen. If only we had a way to save all
> of his immense knowledge. Fortunately, he was always willing to share.
> He published 120 papers on 27 families of flies over his career. His
> unpublished manuscripts and keys also fill many boxes in our
> collection. Copies of many of these are spread around the world with
> Dick’s colleagues and will ultimately be incorporated and published as
> part of new studies. In addition to giving freely of his scientific
> knowledge, Dick was a true philanthropist. He seemed to donate
> virtually every penny that he had to anyone who stopped at his door or
> called. He was incredibly frugal with his own purchases and we all
> benefitted/endured from his purchases of cheap (or free) produce and
> bread that often had seen better days. His immune system seemed to
> enjoy these nutritional challenges although ours were perhaps not
> always up to it. We recall a few years ago when Dick had the first
> cold that he could remember having since he was a child, as well as
> the first headache in his life a year or two later. Diabetes was his
> primary health challenge and it was a significant one in his later
> life. It was likely a contributing factor to the Alzheimer'sthat
> eroded his mind over the last three years.
> The following is excerpted from: Cumming, J.M., Sinclair, B.J.,
> Brooks, S.E., O’Hara, J.E. and Skevington, J.H. 2012. The history of
> dipterology at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, with
> special reference to the Manual of Nearctic Diptera. The Canadian
> Entomologist 143: 539-577. This paper is the introduction to a three
> volume Festschrift in The Canadian Entomologist honouring Dick and the
> other coordinators of the Manual of Nearctic Diptera. Picking through
> these papers, you will find some classic stories about Dick and expand
> your impression of the impact that he played in the Diptera community
> over the last 60 plus years.
>      Dick was born on May 2nd 1928 in Broderick, Saskatchewan. He
> received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Saskatchewan in
> Saskatoon in 1948 and 1949, respectively, and his D.Phil. on the
> genera of Scathophagidae from Oxford University in 1954. He officially
> joined the Canadian National Collection of Insects (CNC) Diptera Unit
> in 1949. Dick retired in 1991, but contributed broadly to Diptera
> activities at the CNC as an Honorary Research Associate until 2009. He
> became a world expert on several families, particularly Mycetophilidae
> s.l., Dolichopodidae, Syrphidae, Scathophagidae, and Muscidae. He was
> an avid collector and contributed over 220,000 pinned Diptera to the
> CNC. Dick authored or co-authored 120 scientific publications,
> including 12 chapters in the Manual of Nearctic Diptera. He has
> published 173 new Diptera taxa (1 family group name, 42 genus-group
> names, and 130 species-group names). Dick was awarded the C.P.
> Alexander Award in 1997 by the North American Dipterists’ Society.
> This lifetime award, which can only be held by a single dipterist at a
> time, publicly acknowledges the most important and influential member
> of the North American Dipterists’ Society. The Award reads, ‘‘John
> Richard Vockeroth is recognized as our most knowledgeable dipterist,
> and for his critical and unique contributions in expanding our
> knowledge of flies, especially flower flies, educating and encouraging
> a cadre of world leaders for Systematic Dipterology’’. Sadly, as of
> today, this award is now available to be given to someone else.
>      Evidence of the respect of Dick’s scientific achievements can be
> seen in the ninety-one patronyms that have been attributed to him by
> the entomological community
> (http://www.canacoll.org/Diptera/Staff/Vockeroth/Vockeroth_Patronyms.pdf).
> This list will no doubt continue to grow as his collections live on
> and support new research on the flies that Dick was so passionate
> about. We have all missed his antics and contributions in the lab
> since he left in 2009. Let’s hope that we can all leave even a
> fraction of the lasting legacy and legends that Dick has left behind.
>      For those in our area, the funeral will be Wednesday 21 November
> at the Hulse, Playfair & McGarry Chapel at 315 McLeod Street in
> Ottawa. More details will be provided in the Ottawa Citizen tomorrow.
>      If you wish to make a donation in Dick’s name, he would no doubt
> be honoured if it went to the Canacoll Foundation (www.canacoll.org),
> which supports improvements to the CNC by visiting specialists.
> Cheques made out to the Canacoll Foundation can be sent to the
> treasurer, Andrew Bennett, at the K.W. Neatby Building, 960 Carling
> Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0C6, Canada. Tax receipts will be issued.
> Jeff
> --
> Jeff Skevington, Research Scientist
> Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes
> Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
> 960 Carling Avenue, K.W. Neatby Building
> Ottawa, ON, K1A 0C6, Canada
> Phone: 613-759-1647
> FAX: 613-759-1927
> E-mail: jhskevington at gmail.com
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