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Hotton, Carol [1], Wingerath, Jonathan [2].

Francis M. Hueber: A celebration of his life and work.

Francis (Fran) Maurice Hueber (February 27, 1929 - June 5, 2019) was born in Oklahoma, and raised in Indianapolis, where he developed an early interest in rocks and fossils. Fran’s intellectual curiosity, first sparked by his high school chemistry teacher, led to a life of many and varied accomplishments. While an undergraduate at Butler University, Fran performed pollen analyses as lab assistant for Quaternary palynologist John Potzger. Convinced that palynology was not his calling, he moved on to Cornell University to study Devonian paleobotany under Harlan Banks, completing a dissertation on an Upper Devonian fossil flora from New York state in 1960. Following a stint with the Geological Survey of Canada, he took a position as Curator of Paleozoic Plants at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, in 1962, where he worked until his retirement in 2001. Fran’s particular expertise was Devonian plants, on which he published numerous papers, including descriptions of nine new taxa. However, his meticulous analyses of anatomy and morphology were not confined to early plants. Through exacting study of the enigmatic Devonian fossil Prototaxites he became convinced that it was a fungus, searching for years for definitive reproductive structures. Although unsuccessful, he went on to publish his seminal paper on Prototaxites in 2001. The discovery of fertile apothecia resembling the primitive fungus Neolecta in 2017 ultimately vindicated his hypothesis. Not confined to Paleozoic plants, Fran also published on Cretaceous conifers and megaspores, Dominican amber and a Devonian bristletail. Despite a near death field experience early in his career, he had an exceptional ‘nose’ for finding fossils and made substantial contributions to Smithsonian Devonian collections. In retirement, Fran continued to publish on a dizzying range of topics, primarily with Chinese colleagues. Fran was described by a colleague as a ‘curator’s curator’ with a special interest in public outreach. He contributed expertise on the Fossil Hall, and had primary responsibility for two superb special exhibits ‘Splendors of Nature’ and ‘Amber: Window to the Past’. He was beloved by docents for his jovial demeanor and clear explanations of complex concepts, and was a walking encyclopedia on rocks and minerals, textiles and dyes, living plants, archaeology, especially of Pompeii, among many other topics. Fran is remembered as a staunch friend, engrossing raconteur with a wicked sense of humor, expert cook and all around good fellow. He is greatly missed.

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1 - National Institutes Of Health, National Center For Biological Information, 45 Center Dr Msc 6510, Building 45, Rm 6an.18, Bethesda, MD, 20892, United States
2 - National Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology, 1000 Constitution Ave., Washington, DC, 20560, USA

Fran Hueber.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: PL3, Paleobotany: Honoring Fran Hueber - Session 1
Location: /
Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021
Time: 10:45 AM(EDT)
Number: PL3001
Abstract ID:518
Candidate for Awards:None

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