October 12, 1896-December 16, 1986
BY PAUL J. SZANISZLO
"HAVE YOU SEEN our latest book?" The question came from John Couch, my graduate professor and mentor from some twenty years earlier. This man was ninety years old, and he was signing and presenting me with a publication that was hot off the press! As we sat in his comfortable living room that pleasant afternoon in Chapel Hill, we discussed the book and his thoughts for the future. He asked about my work and students, and he questioned my daughter, who was entering the University of North Carolina as a freshman, to ascertain whether or not her father had given her an ample foundation in mycology!
I was amazed at his sharpness and his continuing interest, and I thought as he talked how extensive this man's influence has been in his lifetime. He taught his first students in 1919, and here he was, nearly seventy years later, ready to search anew for a spark of interest in a college freshman. Indeed, his time and accomplishments span an even greater distance.
From his birthplace in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in the fall of 1896 to his final resting place in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery in the closing days of 1986, John Nathaniel Couch's life journey took him across the southern United States, through a Europe at war, to Long Island