Professor Sarah Reichard: 1957-2016

2016_08_SarahReichardOn 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.

14 thoughts on “Professor Sarah Reichard: 1957-2016

  1. So very sorry to learn of Dr. Reichard’s death while travelling in Africa. My deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and students. It was a real pleasure to collaborate with her on plant conservation and invasive species projects over the years.

  2. I am so sorry and saddened to hear that Sarah has passed away. I worked with her for many years when she served with distinction on the Invasive Species Advisory Committee. We will all miss her dedication, intelligence, insight, understanding and wry sense of humor. She made a great contribution to the field of invasive species – and was just an all around wonderful colleague and friend.
    I learned so much from Sarah and will miss her – my good wishes to her family.

    Lori Williams, Falls Church , VA

  3. I am honored that my path crossed with Sarah’s, as early as in graduate school, where her inspiration was ascendant.

    Dr. Perry F. Gayaldo, Washington, D.C.

  4. Sarah was my PhD advisor and good friend. She mentored so many students and staff and was always available to assist anyone needing help. I will miss popping into her office to discuss the latest article on invasive species or life in general. A huge loss to us, the University of Washington and the world of Environmental Sciences.

  5. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community. Sarah was part of my thesis committee and helped to shape my research ideas and was always generous with her knowledge and experiences. I will always remember her.

  6. Sarah introduced my late wife and I to the horticulture of Cuba and shared her knowledge of invasive legumes that affected Cuba and the USA. It was a shock to here about her death among the origin of Scotish broom on our vacation. Sarah was also very supportive in our efforts in completing the Yesler Swamp Trail at the east end of the Union Bay Natural Area. We will miss her friendship, expertise, kindness and good judgement.

  7. I’m very sad to read about Sarah’s passing. I will never forget her or all that she taught me about the world of plants. She will be very missed by so many.

  8. My fellow UWBG/CUH community:

    As I awoke this morning and saw the misty morning light, I gave thanks for the privilege to enjoy another day on this Earth. I also gave thanks for the nearly 25 years of fun, fellowship, respect, accomplishment, and friendship which I witnessed and shared in the life of Dr. Sarah Reichard. It has been a surreal few days since we heard of her passing. My daughter told me…..” Way too soon, too fast, but what a way to pass, asleep next to your husband and your best friend’. And I would add….in one of the most beautiful parts of this world. I have walked dark hours resulting from traumatic events in my life. I will also tell you that as we step into each day, we will eventually find that new world to behold. We do not know what lies ahead when it is our turn to leave here, but I do know that the spirit and love of someone as vibrant as Sarah will instill in us forever the strength and wisdom to move ahead and even accomplish those dreams she so boldly envisioned. Take time to reflect, in your own way over this weekend. There will be a new day, certainly different from what we envisioned a week ago. I too, even with heart bowed, now begin to look forward to that new day. Peace.
    John A. Wott
    Director Emeritus, UWBG

  9. My sincere condolences to the UW Community and Brian.
    I first met Professor Sarah at Quarry Hill Botanical Garden in 2013, at PlantRight’s annual Steering Committee Meeting. The following words come to mind when I think of Sarah:
    MENTOR No matter her myriad day job responsibilities, no matter her travel schedule, Sarah always made time to provide guidance, and field vexing questions for me and the PlantRight team (none of us being plant scientists, nor possessing botanical/horticultural experience). Thanks for accelerating my/our plantsy learning curve!
    URBAN LEGEND Sarah’s the first person I’ve known to inspire urban legends (within the horticultural realm, from what I can glean). Perhaps you’ve caught wind of one or two, yourself…? She was good humored about it, all the same. As Sarah waved goodbye following this year’s annual meeting she laughed and called out, “I can’t wait to hear what crazy proclamations I’ve made next!”
    ARUGULA This formidable plant scientist also loved to laugh. (This trait was not especially clear to me upon meeting Sarah that very first time.) After the 2014 Steering Committee meeting, Sarah and I joined artist, Steve Curl, for dinner at St Michael’s Alley in Palo Alto. Our 4-hour conversation ranged from folk music, lettuce we love, jokes, and coming up with the likely name of colleague Katie Haldeman’s then due-any-day baby. Stella Luna Arugula Haldeman, was pretty close! In subsequent conversations, slipping “arugula” into the thread was always a great source of laughter.
    CONNECTOR Within hours or less of PlantRight emailing any (and there were many), Do you know? missives, I would find a reply with names, email and background. Many of these introductions continue to accelerate our learning curve and mission impact. Just last month an introduction led to a new Farm Bill grant project partnership.

    I’m going to miss you, Professor Sarah. The PlantRight Team and I shall always be grateful to you, and shall do our best to carry your story!
    When You Walk On, by folk singer/artist Eliza Gilkyson.

    There’s a long and winding river
    From the darkness to the dawn
    It will carry and deliver you
    When you walk on…
    Those who stay carry your story
    A little glory lingers on
    Though the world you leave behind you
    Will become a distant song
    Every soul you loved will find you
    When you walk on
    When you walk on

  10. I first met Sarah when we were grad students at the UW. Sarah, Ingrid Parker and I met at the Muffin Break every week to discuss journal articles about invasive species. What an introduction that was! Sarah was a friend, fellow gardener, and a responsive and encouraging advisor to me beyond grad school and well into my professional career. I enjoyed serving on the Noxious Weed Advisory committee with her, and getting into so many lively discussions. So sad to have lost such an accomplished and talented woman and friend.

  11. On behalf of Sustainable Conservation’s PlantRight program, where Sarah has been a highly engaged Steering Committee member from day one, we send our deepest sympathy to the UW community and Brian Reichard. Sarah left us far too soon, yet we find some solace that her life’s work shall continue to nurture and inspire generations of botanists, ecologists and countless gardeners around the globe. PlantRight is particularly grateful for her mentoring, vision and leadership in getting our Plant Risk Evaluator (PRE) tool research off the ground, with then graduate student, Lizbeth Seebacher. Sarah’s contributions, like any sustainable landscape, promise a better today and tomorrow for people, nature and communities. Thanks for that, Professor Sarah!

  12. Shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of Professor Reichard. I am an academic adviser who worked with her on a committee regarding academic programs related to food studies. She was a pleasure to work with, and I will miss her even after knowing her for a brief time. My thoughts are with her family and the many people she impacted in our community.

  13. I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of Prof. Sarah Reichard. She was one of my favorites on a subject I loved – plants. Her classes were always enjoyable. I know she will be missed and I pray for comfort for her friends and family.

  14. Sarah and I were grad students together, and then colleagues as we both later took up positions at UW. We served on one another’s students committees, commiserated about all manner of issues in faculty life and conservation circles. She combined so many strengths – a fine intellect, creative problem solving capacities, determination, and a huge heart. She appreciated beauty in nature and in people’s souls, and nurtured everyone in her communities. I will miss her so very much. All my best to Brian and all of her family, friends and colleagues.

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