Friday, January 11, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
Below, in reverse chronological order, are messages from the guest book on the Opelika-Auburn News website, which will be up through January 15:
|January 15, 2008|
|Dr. Folkerts was the most likable and intelligent professor I have ever met. He seemed to truly enjoy every aspect of teaching and cared for his students. I had him several years ago for evolution and I still pass along some of his interesting and funny stories he shared in lectures. In my opinion he was one of Auburn's most known and likable professors. He was the kind of professor who made learing fun and interactive. I will never forget taking a test in the morning and then having a drink with him on trivia night. I still can't fathom how he knew so much trivia. I will keep his family in my thoughts and prayers.|
|Michael Gamotis (Birmingham, AL)|
| ||January 15, 2008|
|Although I only knew George through Debbie and was never one of his students, I was aware of the incredibly positive influence he had my on fellow students in the Biology department at Auburn. I know he sparked a love for the natural world in many of his students and I regret never going on one of his famous Wetland Biology field trips. Auburn University has lost an invaluable asset and an irreplaceable teacher. I was deeply saddened to hear about his passing and my thoughts and feelings go out to Debbie and Molly.|
| || Chad Noblet (Birmingham, AL)|
|January 15, 2008|
|I was saddend to hear of the passing of George. Dr. Folkerts clearly left a positive footprint upon the earth. He will be missed.|
|Brian Butterfield (TN)|
|January 12, 2008|
|I am who I am because of my parents first, and after that because of George. He was my mentor and my friend for 25 years. I was so lucky to have had countless good times with George and Debbie, both as a student and in the years since. Exploring pitcher plant bogs, longleaf sandhills, the Escambia backswamp, Red Hills ravines, Black Belt prairies, Piedmont granite outcrops, Tennessee Valley cedar glades, coastal dunes, the Mobile-Tensaw delta, Appalachian hellbender streams, and so many other places that George loved and knew so amazingly well. And of course there was the pool playing, occasional singing of road songs, enjoying all manner of trivia, and discussing the human condition over a beer or two. George had a truly wonderful life, and those of us who knew him are the richer for it. Our sense of loss is so great now, and although I cannot imagine what it is like for Debbie, Molly, Merrill, and Evan, I believe George’s greatest legacy to his students is the conservation ethic that so many of us still carry. May that flame never be extinguished.|
|Mark Bailey (Andalusia, AL)|
|January 11, 2008|
| George was my freshman bio lab instructor in 1966, then he disappeared. Suddenly he was back a few years later and was kind enough to serve on my MS committee in '73. We saw George and Debbie in the early 80s when they stayed with us in Wytheville (VA) the weekend he was the guest speaker at the Mt. Rogers Naturalist Rally at my invitation. |
And while I've mostly left biology as my day job, I never stopped seeing the world through the eyes I was taught to use by George Folkerts. And I, in turn, have tried to pass that torch to my students, and now to those who read what I write about nature here and there.
Let us feel not less but more force in the world for good with George's passing, each of us suffused with some of his love, hope and drive to protect, honor and celebrate the natural world while there is still time.
| Fred First (Floyd, VA) |
|January 10, 2008|
|I knew George for a very short time, but his affect on my life has been very profound. I was saddened to hear of his passing, and my deepest sympathies to the Folkerts family.|
|Keith Ray (Auburn, AL)|
|January 10, 2008|
|Dr. Folkerts was a great teacher. He definitely opened my eyes to new things and was a very inspirational man. Taking classes with him was a joy and he helped my love for science grow. He will be missed by many and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.|
|Elizabeth (Beth) Trott (Phillips) (Myrtle Beach, SC)|
|January 7, 2008|
|Godspeed George! And, thank you.|
| Allison Cochran (Houston, AL) |
|January 7, 2008|
| I am very saddened to hear of Dr. Folkerts' passing. |
Thank you Dr. Folkerts for your extensive efforts in regards to the natural resources of Alabama.
To the Folkerts family, My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
|Fred Leslie (Montgomery, AL)|
|January 5, 2008|
| The name George Folkerts is synonymous with Conservation Biology and Natural History at Auburn University. His influence was incredibly far-reaching both nationally and internationally. Nearly every biologist we meet, upon learning of our background and former affiliation with Auburn, asks about George. He was one of the most prominent conservation biologists of his generation and his legacy will remain an inspiration to those whose lives and careers he touched. George was an incredible source of information about the natural world and the keeper of many important questions in biology. More than that, he was a good friend and a great soul. When George passed away, Earth became a less interesting and intelligent place to live. We will truly miss him and hope that his love for the natural world will live on in all who love George. |
With much love and our deepest sympathies to Debbie, Molly, and the rest of the Folkerts clan,
Mike Gangloff and Lynn Siefferman (Boone, NC)
| Michael Gangloff (Boone, NC) |
|January 4, 2008|
|In my mind, George will always be Alabama's number one naturalist. He will missed by all. However, his legacy will live through all he touched with his vast knowledge of the natural world.|
| Ken Marion (Birmingham, AL) |
|January 2, 2008|
| Debbie: |
Ingrid Kircher called me and told me the terrible news about George's passing. I can only say that besides being VERY sad, I was tranformed immediately back to pitcher plant bogs and carefree days in Auburn. George has stamped indelibly a love for nature, conservation and all things beautiful in the minds of many. The best thing of all is that he made learning about it so much fun.
I hope to reach out to you personally in the days to come.
Please know that we share your sadness but celebrate the life of one terrific individual.
Audrey Goins (Brichi)
| Audrey Brichi (Oakland, CA) |
|January 2, 2008|
|I will miss you, Dr. Folkerts. Thanks for the life lessons, and instilling in me a love and respect for nature and the outdoors. Above all, thanks for teaching me how to balance a spoon on my nose. :-) Please say hello to my Dad for me. Wishing you much love and light.|
| Marisa Lee-Sasser (Lowndesboro, AL) |
|January 1, 2008|
| A couple of months after coming to work for the Department of Biological Sciences in May, 2007, I stopped by George’s office to say hello. He asked me how I liked my new job and I told him I loved it except I had no convenient way to make coffee. He said, “I have a coffee maker I’ll give you. I’ve gotten to where I only drink instant coffee. I don’t drink coffee for the taste, I just drink it for the caffeine.” |
He had a way of touching some of his words with a tone of laughter, and the target of that laughter was often himself. Somehow he had suggested that I might have had more class than he did because I appreciated the taste of coffee. If you knew George, you can hear him; casually and cheerfully declaring that he had a way to help you in that gentle voice that was so deep you could almost hear each vibration. A voice anyone would like to have heard in their own father.
I told him thanks for the coffee maker and walked away thinking how great it was that I would spend the next several years working in the same building as George Folkerts.
I used to bring him leaves, seeds, parts of bugs. Once or twice he didn’t know what they were, and he freely admitted so and referred me to someone else. In the 20 years I’ve known him, he’s never given me any evidence that he knew how smart he was. He’s never given me any evidence that he knew how smart I wasn’t.
I used to put pictures of strange things in my wallet so I would be prepared for the next time I saw him, and the next time was often when my daughter and I were in Funchess Hall on a weekend. I remember her as a little girl looking down the third floor of Funchess and saying, “I want to see George!” And I remember how delighted he was to see her.
At the young age of 69 George had already accomplished enough professionally and personally that he could declare himself victorious in the game of life. There are very few other people I can say that about of any age. He left a precious family feeling anything but victorious, but Debbie, Molly, and the rest of his family have a blessing and an advantage in life’s journey. They lived with George Folkerts.
George knew the majesty of nature, the power of the human mind, the blessings of humility, and the truth of being an individual. He was burdened less than most of us by society’s obtrusions and dictations.
I am a better person because of my visits with George. It was a privilege to know him, but I believe he would have given time to any sincere person who walked into his office. In that, he had his limits. The George I knew didn’t have time for the disingenuous.
When I was a graduate student, I remember George telling me that he had flunked a genetics exam (or perhaps it was the whole class) because he was in the woods when he should have been studying. I was obsessed with obtaining the highest grades possible, so George’s statement was amazing and profound.
If George had had a chance to give one last lecture, I believe he would have told us to go into the field and don’t come up with any excuses about some report you have to write or some test you have to study for. Get out there! And take someone with you so you can share the experience, and if that someone is a child, all the better.
I write this for Debbie and Molly, whom I know, but I also write this for everyone who knew George. Think of George and abandon what you’re doing and go out to the woods. Count the birds you see, smell the leaves, listen to the wind, feel the sun, and know that you are in the presence of the spirit of George Folkerts, and, in nature, you are in the presence of the teacher of one of the greatest teachers any of us has ever know.
| Shawn Jacobsen (Auburn, AL) |
|December 29, 2007|
|George will be missed by all of us who knew him. I was lucky enough to take George's Evolution and Systematics course my first quarter at Auburn and it was one of the best classes I took during my entire time there, and it definitely got me excited about my future as a scientist. I remember participating in one of his "Natural History Quizzes" and how much fun he seemed to be having. My sympathies to Debbie and all his family- Margaret|
|Margaret Gunzburger (Bruce, FL)|
|December 29, 2007|
| The roar of another lion of conservation has been silenced. In his book entitled "An American Crusade for Wildlife" James Trefethen spoke eloquently of the "giants among the pygmies" in the field of conservation. George was truly one of those "giants." All things and places that are wild and free have lost a great crusader on their behalf. George was unsurpassed as a teacher, field biologist, naturalist, and purveyor of general knowledge. I also have lost a friend and mentor. I had planned and looked forward to spending even more time in the field with George after my retirement. Selfishly, I must admit to regretting I'll not now have that opportunity. George often kidded me that he would attend my retirement party long before I would attend his, even though I was 12 years his junior. Ironically, a number of us were celebrating my last day at work in Buffalo's on Magnolia, one of George's favorite "non-field" haunts, that Friday evening. A number of us had wondered aloud where George was, and then we received the news. What a shock! But that was George....just when you thought you knew everything about him, he would surprise you in some other way. Whether in the class room, the field, or just talking over a beer, his presence was a joy and he will be sorely missed. |
My heartfelt sympathies to Debbie, Molly, and the rest of George's family.
| Ralph Mirarchi (Opelika, AL) |
|December 27, 2007|
|George Folkerts was a legacy at Auburn. I was fortunate enough to have him for two classes in my time at Auburn. He was hilarious and knowledgeable and taught us how to think not just the content of the class. Legacy's never die he will live forever in the hearts and minds of the students he taught.|
| Whitney Spalding (Kingsland, GA)|
Posted by Gator at 4:17 PM