Richard Weldon Larimore, long-time aquatic biologist of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), died on January 14, 2015 at Urbana, Illinois. He was 91. He is survived by his wife Glenn E. Larimore and three sons Richard L., Kenneth, and Michael Larimore.
Dr. Larimore worked at INHS for more than six decades, beginning in 1946 as a research assistant. He remained associated with this organization until his death. As one of the longest serving staff in the history of INHS, Dr. Larimore has worked with every Chief of INHS except its first, Stephen A. Forbes, who held that position until 1930. David L. Thomas, the seventh INHS Chief, was a former student of Dr. Larimore’s.
A graduate of Rogers High, Rogers, Arkansas, Dr. Larimore completed a BS (Cum Laude) at the University of Arkansas in 1946, an MS at the University of Illinois in 1947, and a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1950.
In addition to his service to the State of Illinois, Dr. Larimore was an Inland Fisheries Expert for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. He served in this capacity in Thailand from 1963–1964 and in Indonesia from 1972–1973. Dr. Larimore was a charter member of the North American Benthological Society and a member of a number of other professional organizations including the American Fisheries Society, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Ecological Society of America, and the Illinois Academy of Science.
Dr. Larimore was the epitome of a gentleman and scholar, albeit, a very down-to-earth one. His publication record includes 4 book chapters, 25 technical reports, 29 journal articles as well as a monograph, 2 magazine articles, and contributions to 4 conference proceedings. Perhaps the culmination of his science publishing efforts was INHS Bulletin 35(2) “The Fishes of Champaign County, Illinois: During a Century of Alterations of a Prairie Ecosystem,” which he co-authored with Peter Bayley in 1996. This work is considered the most thorough record of historic data of fishes of any place on earth.
His publication awards include Best Paper Award from the Wildlife Society (1957) and Best Paper Award from the American Fisheries Society (1959). Dr. Larimore was also selected for the Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa for scholarship and the Phi Sigma National Scholarship Award.
In 2002, he was honored by his family and the University of Illinois with the establishment of the “R. Weldon Larimore/Jordan Creek Endowment Fund” to help perpetuate aquatic research on Jordan Creek, a stream that flows in eastern Illinois and western Indiana, where Dr. Larimore pioneered electro-fishing technology. This fund supports the “R. Weldon Larimore/Jordan Creek Award” granted annually to U of I students or INHS researchers based upon their research proposals.
Dr. Larimore, affectionately known as “Larry by his friends and colleagues, is remembered for his expertise in aquatic science, his institutional memory, and his sense of humor. Both at work and at more informal gatherings, Larry was always a popular presence. Many of these gatherings occurred at his family’s cabin in the woods overlooking the Salt Fork River near Oakwood, Illinois. Like iron filings to the proverbial magnet, people were drawn to this location, not only by its tranquility and beauty but, by Larry’s personality. Many of us remember him standing around the fire, glass of wine in hand, regaling us with a seemingly inexhaustible trove of anecdotes from his life in science.
With deep sadness but profound fondness, we salute the life of Larry Larimore.
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