Elsie Quarterman (1910-), Centenarian Ecologistby John S. Quarterman and other relatives and friends.
Dr. Elsie Quarterman, Ph.D., remembers the celebrations at the end of World War I in Valdosta, Georgia, where she was born 100 years ago in November 1910. Her father David Sinclair Quarterman was from an old Georgia family, and her mother Alla Irene Peek traced her line back to colonial Virginia (with many Scots in both lines).
In 1969 she rediscovered the Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) in the cedar glades of central Tennessee, which are her academic specialty [Quarterman 1950]. She demonstrated that different plants affect each other via chemicals they produce, which are in turn mediated by the chemical content and physical granularity of the soil. Her graduate students, their students, and Tennessee state parks honored her pioneering work by renaming the 30-year annual Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade Wildflower Festival at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in her honor.
Dr. Quarterman is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has been given awards by the Horticultural Society of Davidson County (1982), by SUNY-ESF (Sol Feinstone Environmental Aaward 1982) and by the Tennessee Native Plant Society (2008), among others. She has been a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, President of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, and chairman of the election committee for the Botanical Society of America, as well as acting director of the Tennessee Botanical Gardens at Cheekwood. She is the founder of the Tennesee Protection Planning Committee.
Her long-time co-author Dr. Catherine Keever remembered a conference in Edinburgh in 1964, "Elsie, being of Scottish ancestry, would buy anything with a thistle on it." They rented a car and drove from Caithness to London [Keever 1985].
Steve Snoddy remembers, "On the Bouschor-led tour of Caithness in 1991, I followed Elsie down the rock slope at old Kiess Castle so we could track down something growing near the water's edge, this when she was in her eighties!" [Snoddy 2010].
Elsie and her older sister Mrs. Jane Sinclair Quarterman Comer (1905-2005) long attended the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games with family and friends, where they insisted in sleeping in a tent above the age of 90. In 2000 the sisters were given an award as the oldest campers.
As our driver James Campbell from Edinburgh sought an obscure location on a narrow Highland road, he suggested turning back, when a voice was heard back in the bus: "No, keep going! It's like a field trip with graduate students!" That was Elsie, of course.
As Aye, Elsie!
ReferencesKeever 1985. Keever, Catherine. 1985. Moving on. A Way of Life. Brady Printing Company, 98 pages.
Quarterman 1950. Quarterman, Elsie. 1950. Major plant communities of Tennessee cedar glades. Ecology 31: 234-254.
Quarterman and Keever 1962. Quarterman, Elsie, and Catherine Keever. 1962. Southern mixed hardwood forest: climax in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Ecological Monographs 32: 167-185.
Snoddy 2010. Snoddy, Steve. 18 Nov 2010. Elsie's 100th. Email.
$Date: 2010/12/15 22:17:14 $