PERCY LEROY RICKER

Photo of Percy Ricker

Percy was born on March 27, 1878, in Brunswick, Maine. He received a BS degree and an MS degree in 1901 from the University of Maine where he was an assistant in the Department of Biology. He was hired in 1901 at the age of 23 as scientific assistant agrostologist in the Bureau of Plant Industries of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the same year that A. S. Hitchcock was hired as agrostologist. In 1902, he published A preliminary list of Maine fungi with 86 pages. In 1913, he was assistant botanist, taxonomic and range investigator, and published Directions of collecting plants, with 8 pages. Iin 1918, he published Botanical activity in the District of Columbia and vicinity and in 1946, New Asiatic species of Campylotropis [Legum.].

He was an expert photographer of wild flowers and traveled widely in the United States leaving behind a tremendous collection of glass negatives when he left the U. S. Department of Agriculture. He assisted with the selection of type specimens of grasses during World War II at the National Herbarium, annotating them with his initials "P. L. R." Although a great botanist, he did have one fault and that was his handwriting. In 1988, Regina Hughes, an artist in the Botany Department, then in her 80s, wrote a note about him: "Percy's writing was absolutely terrible, he sometimes asked me to type something for him, I would rather be eaten by lions." He retired as an associate botanist in National Museum's Department of Botany in 1948 at age 70. He named about 35 new species of plants. His collections of 10,000 parasitic fungi are at the University of Wisconsin (Madison).

He died February 2, 1973, at the age of 94, in the Nursing Center of San Angelo, Texas.

Percy was elected to the Washington Biologists' Field Club in 1905, was treasurer 1908-38 (probably a record that will not be broken), served on various committees, and was awarded an honorary membership in 1957.