On Monday, August 29, our community woke up to the heartbreaking news that Professor Sarah Reichard passed away while leading a UW Botanic Gardens tour in South Africa. We can’t begin to express our shock and sadness at the loss of such a tremendous person and scholar. Our thoughts are with her husband and all of her family, friends, colleagues and students.
Sarah was born on December 16, 1957, and grew up in New Orleans and North Carolina. She earned her bachelor’s in botany from the University of Washington in 1981, and then her master’s (1989) and Ph.D. (1994) from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Her research and teaching interests included the biology and ecology of invasive plants, as well as the recovery of rare species. Her courses on campus ranged from plant identification to public presentation in horticulture, and she led unforgettable botanical tours from Cuba to South Africa.
“Losing Sarah has been devastating to our community,” says SEFS Director Tom DeLuca. “Sarah gave everything in directing the UW Botanic Gardens, and she absolutely loved the Arboretum and Center for Urban Horticulture. She was a noted scholar in plant conservation and invasive ecology, and well loved and respected as a colleague, friend and faculty member. Sarah was also dedicated to educating children on the importance of nature in their lives and used her position as director to expand our role in K-12 education, including establishing hugely successful programs like the Fiddleheads Forest School. We are all still reeling from her loss and know there is no way to replace, or forget, her incredible talents and countless contributions.”
Dean Lisa Graumlich of the College of the Environment shared a wonderful tribute to Sarah on Friday, September 16, and we encourage you to read many other beautiful reflections in the blog comments below and on stories at the UW Botanic Gardens and the American Public Gardens Association.
Memorial Set for October 13
We will be holding a celebration of life in honor of Sarah on Thursday, October 13. The celebration will be a two-part event, and guests are invited to attend either or both parts.
The first part of the celebration will be at the Washington Park Arboretum from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Guests are asked to meet in Wisteria Hall at the Graham Visitor’s Center at 2 p.m. From there they will be given a map indicating three separate areas around the park where guest speakers will be sharing stories of Sarah. The speakers will remain at the areas and will be giving informal chats. Each chat will last approximately 15 minutes.
Later that afternoon, we will host a more formal celebration at the Don James Center in Husky Stadium. This program will begin with a reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a formal presentation featuring several speakers from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Please mark your calendars to join us in honoring Sarah, and we hope you’ll RSVP as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you there.
Two funds have now been set up in Sarah’s honor:
1. The Professor Sarah E. Reichard Endowed Fund for UW Botanic Gardens will support the UW Botanic Gardens for public education, outreach, student education, research and general maintenance and improvement of gardens and plant collections.
2. The Sarah Reichard Endowed Fellowship will support graduate students within the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences who are engaged in studies with the UW Botanic Gardens.
Photo of Sarah Reichard, 2016 © School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.