Charles W. Reimer (1923-2008)

Colleagues at the Academy of Natural Sciences and diatomists around the world mourn the death of Dr. Charles Reimer, a distinguished scholar of diatoms and the Curator of the ANSP Diatom Herbarium for almost 50 years. He passed away on November 29, 2008.

Charles Reimer was born in Indianapolis on May 14, 1923. In middle school he became interested in natural sciences, particularly botany. He attended Butler University from 1940-43. During World War II he was trained as an interpreter at the University of Nebraska and sent to the front lines in Normandy and Alsace-Lorraine. While on a patrol, he was severely wounded and held in captivity until the end of the war. After a several-month recovery in U.S. hospitals, Reimer returned to Butler University and then attended graduate school at Michigan State University where he received his Ph.D. in Botany.

Dr. Reimer began his illustrious career at the Academy of Natural Sciences on December 1, 1952. He was originally hired by Dr. Ruth Patrick to translate books and journal articles for the flora she was planning to publish on diatoms in the United States. He later became co-author with Dr. Patrick of the product of this effort, the two-volume The Diatoms of the United States. Upon beginning his diatom studies, he worked with Matthew Hohn and John Wallace. About this same time, Dr. Patrick began a large amount of fieldwork, so Field Algologist was added to Dr. Reimer's list of many duties.

From 1960 to 1974 Dr. Reimer was an Associate Curator of the Diatom Herbarium, and then in 1975 took on the full title of Curator. Dr. Reimer answered all of the requests for material or slides that came to the Herbarium. During this time he also performed his own research and found time to teach. In 1966, John Dodd, from Iowa State, invited him to develop and teach a summer course in diatoms at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory field station. The course was given each summer by Dr. Reimer until 1991. A large proportion of currently practicing freshwater diatomists in United States took this course, learning their taxonomy and ecology under the tutelage of Dr. Reimer. He has also taught at Drexel University in Philadelphia as an adjunct professor and in China and Chile as a visiting professor. He officially retired as Curator in 1991, but continued his work in the Diatom Herbarium until his death.