Celebrating the life, passion, and mission of a great naturalist, teacher, and friend

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stories and Remembrances

Here is a place to post stories and thoughts about George. Click the "comments" hyperlink below and follow the instructions. As this is a moderated blog, comments will not appear immediately, but will be posted as soon as possible.


Archaeopteryx said...

My tribute to George is here

Bruce Wheat said...

Thanks to Thomas Spencer's article on Splinter Hill Bog and tribute to our late friend George Folkerts in today's Birmingham News Sunday paper (6/1/08) I learned of his passing late last year. I was a student of his in the early '70s at Auburn in the Biology department and a member of his first "Field Biology Course" in 1973. Reading all the remembrance postings on Blogspot brought back a cascade of memories of those years.
Although I left academics in the early '80s, my love and respect of plants and animals is firmly rooted in Folkertsian teachings. From pitcher plant bogs to the Sonoran desert to redwood forests to Ozark caves to balancing broomsticks, George Folkerts opened a new world to me that I have shared with many people since.
Late night study breaks in Funchess Hall would bring us to George's office where we would take down a Mammology textbook and quiz him on scientific names of random exotic species. He never missed a one that I remember.
I always said he was the smartest man I ever knew.
George Folkerts will always be a part of me as a naturalist at heart. My best to Debbie and the family. Splinter Hill will be my next field trip as a tribute to him.
Bruce Wheat, Hoover, AL. 6/1/2008.

Onsite Sam said...

I was unaware until a month ago that George had died. I had two courses, Systematic Evolution and Vert. I, under him, in about the fall of ’65 and spring of ’66.

I regret that I had not seen him since that time. I was a wildlife management student who left Auburn from ’67 thru ’69, courtesy of Uncle Sam. I came back and graduated in the summer of 1970.

I spent a career in environmental public health, working with soils and sewage, insect vectors, etc. and now environmental consulting. I later received an MPA from AUM. I am a Cub Scout leader and am helping raise my 7 year old grandson as a Naturalist.

I am one of about 6 or 7 in Alabama who were accepted & trained by the Climate Project. I teach Climate Change classes to elementary children and adults.I feel sure George would have approved.

I fondly remember him as my most favorite college professor. (Dr. Don Davis & Plant Ecology would be #2).

In evolution he would draw these funny little cartoon critters to demonstrate genetic traits.

My favorite story is from my vertebrate I class. We had to make a live collection, the more rare or poisonous the critter, the more points toward our grade.

I had collected, along with other reptiles and amphibians, a Diamondback Water Snake (Nerodia rhombifer rhombifer) from the lake above the falls at Little River Canyon, on a week-end trip to DeKalb County, with a Botany Grad student, Bob Daly (now Dr. Daly, Univ. N. AL), and our wives. (a loose snake in Chevy Corvair, with an under the floor heater duct—is another story).

On the next class day I turned in my weekend live collection, a Cave Salamander, a Copperhead and the Diamond Back Water snake, to Dr. Folkerts. During the next lab session, Dr. Folkerts was, by-the-numbers, showing us how to catch a snake by the tail and swing the snake between your legs, and quickly closing your legs to capture the snake’s "secure" head. The demonstration by-the-numbers was of course done slower than normal and George got bit in the rear. It did not, as I remember it, bother him at all.

I hope George's family will have one more small memory--My tribute to George. I will be donating to the Nature Conservance in his honor.

Samuel (Sam) C. Robertson
Prattville, AL

Anonymous said...

Not sure what I can say about George that hasn't already been said. George was my friend, like he was to so many others.

I wrote the following in the acknowledgments section of my thesis so many years ago.

"I am fortunate enough to call Dr. George W. Folkerts of Auburn University a friend. His zeal for the study of our world has inspired and humbled me. He taught me
to see the world from many perspectives and to notice the things no one else cares to see. Thank you."

lfelliott said...

Somebody really needs to develop a Wikipedia page for Dr. Folkerts. He influenced so many people (myself included). I can honestly say that I would not be the person I am today had it not been for the inspiration I gained from my short exposure to the man. When anyone asks if I had a mentor, he is the first person to come to mind. Dr. Freeman and Dr. Dixon are high on that list as well.

Lee Elliott, Columbia, MO

Jubilee Bay said...

Having spent this day running across a large number and variety of insects and spiders I thought, "I haven't seen this many bugs since taking classes in Funchess Hall! I wonder what Dr. Folkerts is doing these days?" I am saddened to have learned that he is no longer with us. Attending his classes, lectures and labs was always a favorite of mine. His quiet yet humorous demeanor, his creative drawings on the board, his ability to give time and attention to his students is demonstrated by few professors, but unlike others Dr. Folkerts wanted us to learn and to love the material he was presenting as much as he did!

In the spring quarter of 1976 I had the privilege and pleasure to take Biology 1 taught by him. As was often the case one topic led to another, then another and we eventually had a lengthy discussion on genetics. His comments piqued my interest and I seriously considered needing to leave AU to pursue a degree in genetics since AU did not have offer one at the time. Eventually my heart stayed true to the orange and blue, and I ended up graduating with a degree in special education and spent years working with intellectually disabled students and learned more about genetic conditions and anomalies than I could imagine. Many times when reviewing case files I remembered Dr. Folkerts speaking with me about genetics and smiled to myself wondering if he were reminded of our conversation whether he would realized that his comments helped steer me onto a very rewarding professional path. Thank you dearly Dr. Folkerts!

I have read many of the remembrances and hope that this one will let his family and friends know that he was a kind soul and great educator who had a lasting and positive influence upon me.

Robin McArthur Aderson, '79