Professor Gene Namkoong
Gene Namkoong, 68, passed away on Sunday March 3, 2002 at a local hospital near his mountain home in Leicester, North Carolina.
native of New York city of Korean ancestry, Dr. Namkoong received his Bachelor
of Science degree in 1956 and his M.S. in 1958, both from the State University
of New York at Syracuse. He received his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University
in 1963, in forestry and quantitative genetics. He was hired and worked for the
US Forest Service from 1958 to 1993, based at North Carolina State University,
where he also held professorships in the Departments of Genetics, Biomathematics
and Forestry. In the mid-1970's he was also appointed to the rare status in the
US Forest Service as a Pioneer Research Scientist. In 1993, after retiring from
the USFS, he accepted the Department Head, Forest Sciences, position at the University
of British Columbia. He served in that position until his retirement in July,
1999, when he and his wife Carol moved back to North Carolina.
It is difficult to encapsulate the many contributions to forest science of Gene Namkoong. A symposium entitled "Unifying perspectives of evolution, conservation and breeding", was held in his honor at the University of British Columbia from July 22 to 24, 1999, highlighted the diversity and quality of Gene's research. Papers in honor of Gene (published as a special volume in the Canadian Journal of Forestry, Volume 31, 2001) attest to the breadth and depth of his research, and its impact upon our thinking about forest tree breeding and gene conservation. At the Symposium, we celebrated Gene's many accomplishments and expressed our friendship on the occasion of his retirement as Department Head and Professor at the University of British Columbia. Family, friends, colleagues and students were delighted to come together for this celebration, and to bring greetings from around the world.
did not mean much of a reduction in Gene's zeal for learning or a slowing in his
generation of new ideas. He fought a heroic battle with melanoma, and he maintained
an incredibly philosophical view of life and death throughout the process, all
the time continuing to work on his final book. He was greatly supported in this
battle, as he was throughout his career, by Carol. We were all extremely fortunate
to have known this man as a colleague and a friend, and to have shared work and
life with this truly remarkable man. He will be missed more than we can imagine.