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Frits Warmolt Went
May 18, 1903 - May 1, 1990
By Arthur W. Galston and Thomas D. Sharkey
If ever a scientist could be said to have been born into his profession, it was Frits Went. His father, F. A. F. C. Went, was professor of botany and director of the Botanical Garden at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. The director and his family lived in a 300-year-old mansion in the middle of the garden, and Frits was born there in 1903. Because the well-known and respected Professor Went presided over a modern, well-equipped laboratory of botany, he attracted a great many visitors from all over the world, many of them famous in their own right. Young Frits benefited not only from acquaintance with such people, but also from the inquisitive intellectual environment of the laboratory; from witnessing the use of rather sophisticated equipment in experiments on plants; and from being exposed to the approaches used by young investigators to attack a broad range of interesting scientific problems. Frits Went relates, "I greatly profited from the thorough knowledge that my father had of botany in general. He knew the entire plant physiological literature, having read every important paper ever published (and remembering its content). He personally subscribed to most botanical journals. He knew and was friendly with most botanists all over the world, and thus I came to know many of them" (1974).