December 7, 1911-April 28, 1998
BY IHSAN A. AL-SHEHBAZ
REED ROLLINS, ASA GRAY professor of systematic botany emeritus at Harvard University, was one of the outstanding and most insightful scientists of this century. He was one of the founding fathers and second president of both the International Association for Plant Taxonomy and the Organization for Tropical Studies. His 30-year leadership as the director of the Gray Herbarium elevated Harvard to one of the world's top centers for studies in systematic and evolutionary botany. He was one of the pioneering botanists who promoted the extensive use of genetics, anatomy, and cytology to solve taxonomic problems.
Reed, the eighth of thirteen children (ten boys and three girls) of Mormon parents, was born in Lyman in southwestern Wyoming on December 7, 1911. His father, Clarence Rollins, was a rancher and at one point a deputy sheriff of Uinta County, who along with his family and neighbors, leased the land from the federal government. The children were always encouraged to study hard and read the various books at home and the daily newspaper, as well as sing and play the piano at night. During the evenings, the family spent many good times singing, while the girls took turns playing the piano.