Ronald Ray Weedon, 71, died unexpectedly while working in his yard at his home in Chadron Nebraska on Tuesday 25 May 2010. Weedon, a 39 year member of the Chadron State College (CSC) faculty served as professor of physical and life sciences and curator of the High Plains Herbarium (CSCN). In addition to botany, Ron taught microbiology courses on campus for 29 years, incorporating students in research on antimicrobial properties of native plants and other topics. Ron helped expand CSCs science offerings during his tenure, helping to build programs in environmental resource management, wildlife management, plant sciences, and horticulture. In addition to his teaching duties he was involved in the campus arboretum, and ran the CSC greenhouse as a service to the campus. He planted several ornamental flower beds and often spent weekends hand weeding and pruning ornamentals around the Science Building.
Under Rons watch the CSC herbarium expanded from about 2400 specimens to nearly 60,000, becoming the second largest in Nebraska one of the largest in the northwestern Great Plains. His commitment to collections included securing the papers and library of ethnobotanist and Native American Church scholar George Morgan, as well as those of pioneering Great Plains botanist and horticulturalist Claude Barr, whose book Jewels of the Plains Ron completed and published after Barrs death in 1982. He assembled a pharmacological collection of over 10,000 items and was instrumental in rebuilding mammal collections on campus, including the acquisition of two semi-trailer loads of taxidermy specimens in 2008.
Ron was born on 16 May 1939 in Caldwell Idaho, and completed his undergraduate studies at the College of Idaho in 1964. An undergraduate trip to Mexico strongly shaped his interest in botany, and he went on to earn a masters degree and a doctorate from the University of Kansas, the latter in 1973. His dissertation was entitled Taxonomy and distribution of the genus Bidens (Compositae) in the north-central Great Plains states. Bidens remained the primary focus of Rons research through his career, and over the years he initiated a number of student research projects on the systematics and pharmacology of beggar-ticks, as well as many others in floristics, systematics and ethnobotany, having co-authored more student papers than any other instructor in the colleges history. Additionally he and a colleague developed a very successful field studies program taking groups of students on extended trips to various places such as Big Bend National Park, Badlands National Park, the Black Hills of South Dakota, countless nearby locations in Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota, on floral studies to the southeastern U.S. and beyond U.S. borders to Canada, Baja California, and Costa Rica.
Ron is survived by his daughter Jessica of Rapid City, South Dakota. His family, friends , students and colleagues will greatly miss his can-do attitude, his marvelous sense of humor, and his generous spirit. [Posted 15 November 2010]