This page pays tribute to members of the Entomological Society of Alberta that passed away recently.

John L. Carr, of Calgary, passed away peacefully on Monday, September 4, 2006 after a lengthy illness at the age of 84 years. John was born in Edmonton, AB, grew up in Medicine Hat and migrated to Calgary after receiving his Master of Science in Geology from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His early geological career took him from gold mines in Quebec to the Canol Project in Northern Canada to explorations and surveys of the Rocky Mountains on horseback. He parlayed his exploratory expertise into a successful career in the oil industry, from the beginnings of Home Oil through to the days of Dome Petroleum. His alter ego thrived in a different facet of the natural world - the pursuit of beetles throughout North America. Continuing the work of his father (Frederick S. Carr), this began as a hobby but grew into a vocation after retiring from the oil patch. He was sought after by professional, amateur and student entomologists for his insights and knowledge in the field. When no longer able to do the field or office work required to further his collection, it was donated to the Canadian National Collections of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes in Ottawa, ON. Fundamental to his philosophy of life was a desire to see an interest in science and nature carried through to the next generation. To further this desire the family requests that memorial tributes be made directly to the Canacoll Foundation (K.W. Neatby Building, 960 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0C6) or a nature, science, or education based charity of the donor's choice. John is survived by Bert (nee Batty) his loving wife of fifty-seven years; two sons and daughters-in-law Richard and Bonnie, Doug and Margo (Glover); four grandchildren; his sister Mary Carr of Medicine Hat, AB; a legacy of entomological knowledge based on the collecting and taxonomy of several hundred thousand beetles and many people either laughing or groaning over his puns.

No services were held at the family's request. Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. The family wishes to thank the staff of Churchill House of Colonel Belcher Veterans Care Centre, and especially his long time caregiver Lindi Rempel for her spirited delivery of outstanding care, friendship and commitment over the past six years. In living memory of John Carr, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Crowfoot Chapel, 82 Crowfoot Circle N.W., Calgary.

[Source: Calgary Herald]


Dr. William (Bill) Arnold Nelson lost his battle with cancer at the age of 84 on October 12, 2002. Dr. Nelson was a native of Lethbridge, where he received his early education. He attended the University of Alberta, obtaining his B.Sc. degree in Chemistry and Biological Sciences in 1944, and continued his training at McGill University, where he received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in 1948 and 1957, respectively.

Dr. Nelson joined the Experimental Farms Service of the Canadian Department of Agriculture in 1941 as a summer student, and served in this capacity for two summers. Through 1943 to 1947, Dr. Nelson was an Agricultural Assistant with the Entomological Laboratory, working on a project on wheat stem sawfly resistance in wheat. In 1946, he transferred to the Livestock Insects Laboratory, under the direction of R.H. Painter, as an Agricultural Scientist to conduct research on pests of sheep and other livestock. Even though Dr. Nelson's place of work changed from the Livestock Insects Laboratory to the Veterinary-Medical Entomology Section of the Science Service Laboratory, to the Animal Parasitology section of the Lethbridge Research Station of Agriculture Canada, his emphasis did not change. His research on the host-parasite relationship in livestock pests was widely recognized and the results were published in 30 scientific papers and 59 other publications. Dr. Nelson established that resistance to keds by sheep was characterized by cutaneous vasoconstriction in skin that cut off the blood supply sufficiently that the parasites were not able to obtain blood. He also proved that this was true for cattle lice. Dr. Nelson co-authored an internationally recognized review of literature on host-parasite relationships.

Before retirement in 1982, Dr. Nelson was an active member of the American Society of Parasitologists and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. For a while he was a member of the Entomological Society of Canada and the Agricultural Institute of Canada. Dr. Nelson served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Entomology. He served in various capacities on Research Station Committees.

Dr. Nelson was a founding director of the Lethbridge Symphony Association. Following the diagnosis of schizophrenia in one of his relatives, he became an active member in the Schizophrenia Society. Dr. Nelson served in various capacities with the St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Lethbridge that included choir member and lay reader. Dr. Nelson and his wife, Margaret, had three children -- Murray, Mark and Katherine.

Dr. Nelson was a Charter Member and Honorary Member of the Entomological Society of Alberta, and very active in the Society. He served the Society as President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Editor, and Director of the Society. He was the photographer at a number of annual meetings, the results of his efforts will be ever present in the Proceedings of the Society. Dr. Nelson presented informative papers at 17 annual meetings of the Society. His most recent contribution to the Society was that of member of the Local Arrangements Committee of the 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Lethbridge. Sadly, Dr. Nelson passed away two weeks before the Meeting.

A memorial service was held on October 16, 2002 at St. Augustine's Church to celebrate the life of Dr. Nelson. People in attendance heard of a man who was a scientist, photographer, advocate for education, church member, tireless volunteer and ardent family man. He made friends along every path he walked, and will be missed by all those who knew him.


Graham C. D. Griffiths (22 June 1937 – 3 May 2009) was known as a brilliant but controversial dipterist who expressed his strong opinions about morphology, phylogeny and people in books, reviews and papers as well as a legacy of letters to administrators, editors, committees and bureaucrats. His contributions to biology were indeed impressive, including a 1972 book that remains an extremely important synthesis of information about morphology and phylogeny of the higher Diptera as well as a clear and concise summary of Hennigian cladistic methodology. He was also an extraordinary taxonomist and an encyclopedic storehouse of information about various groups of flies, especially the large and difficult families Agromyzidae and Anthomyiidae. His incredible knowledge about Diptera and his productive publication record are all the more remarkable given that he started out in the arts but became a scientist.

Graham was born in Cardiff, Wales, and went to school there and in London, England (1941-1955). While at school he studied piano but also started a life-long interest in flies. After finishing school, Graham served two years in the British Army, and then attended Christ’s College, Cambridge (1958-61), obtaining a B.A. in classics and philosophy. After graduation, he worked in the United Kingdom Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1961-67). Based on letters of recommendation rather than an education in biology, Graham was granted admission to graduate studies at the University of Alberta under the supervision of George E. Ball (1967-1971). From 1972 to 1974, he held a Killam Special Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the Canada Council. Graham’s Ph.D. thesis was expanded into a book about the evolution of higher flies, a subject area to which he had earlier contributed by translating Hennig’s revolutionary approach to systematics into English. His post-doctoral work dealt with the foundations of biosystematics.

In 1970, Graham married Deirdre Webb, a park naturalist at Elk Island National Park. After post-graduate work, Graham became self-employed as an entomological and botanical consultant based in Edmonton.

Graham was a prolific writer with over 130 publications, including a book, scientific papers and book chapters; reviews of scientific papers and books; botany and agricultural articles; and many reports for various government departments and industries. His scientific publications primarily dealt with the taxonomy of Agromyzidae and Anthomyiidae.

Graham’s first research, on Syrphidae (flower flies), was published in 1954 when he was at Mill Hill School. About 1953, Kenneth Spencer got Graham interested in agromyzids and the two developed a lasting friendship. While still at school, Graham also published descriptions of two new species of these flies. During his time with the army and the civil service, he continued to publish on agromyzids and their parasitoids. By rearing leaf-mining larvae to adults, he was able to connect the flies with their hosts as well as their parasitoids.

In 1977, Graham initiated and edited Flies of the Nearctic Region, a series of monographs published in taxonomically arranged Parts, which has now reached 9 volumes with numerous parts, all published without public funds. Since 1982, Graham produced 15 Parts on anthomyiids, which total 2635 printed pages. In these publications, he described nearly 170 new species.

Graham’s studies of phytophagous flies led him to learn a great deal of botany. In 1988, he published his first plant, rather than insect, paper. His proficiency at identifying plants by their leaves, stems and roots rather than by their flowers led to consulting contracts from pipe-line companies, which, to fulfill their environmental impact assessments, needed to avoid rare plant habitats.

Graham was multi-lingual, learning modern Greek, German and Russian. In the early 1990s he started to translate the “Flora of the Russian Arctic” into English. Three volumes were published between 1995 and 2000, and he was still working on translating the remaining volumes when he died.

Graham served in various capacities for several professional and environmental bodies, including the National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada, the Public Advisory Committee on the Environment for the Government of Alberta, the Environment Policy Committee for the Alberta New Democratic Party, the Publications Committee of the Entomological Society of Canada, the Council for International Congresses of Dipterology, and the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Entomology.

Between 1962 and 1987, five entomologists (M. Fischer, K.A. Spencer, J.T. Nowakowski, V.K. Sehgal and C. Hansson) named four agromyzid flies and two of their hymenopteran parasitoids griffithsi. In 1998, Graham was elected an honorary member of the International Congresses of Dipterology during the 4th International Congress of Dipterology, one of a maximum of seven living dipterists who can be so honoured. In 2003, he was elected a Special Life Member of the British Entomological and Natural History Society, of which he was a member for an extraordinary 57 years.

After moving permanently to Athabasca in 2001, Graham continued his research and consulting work but also volunteered to give talks to children and the general public on his biological studies of Muskeg Creek and Crooked Lake. He also worked through Athabasca University’s herbarium checking and doing identifications and documenting plants of interest for the Alberta Native Plant Council. In late 2006, Graham, after months of what he thought was a minor irritation, was diagnosed with throat cancer. In early 2007, after various cancer treatments, he had difficulty speaking and had to use writing to communicate with most people. However he continued with field work, a revision of the genus Fucellia, and identifying plants for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. Unfortunately the cancer spread and Graham died in Athabasca, just short of his 72nd birthday.

Graham is survived by his mother, two sisters (Eileene and Angela) and his wife Deirdre. Most of Graham’s insect collections will go to the Strickland Museum at the University of Alberta.

[Robert G. Holmberg, Athabasca University: Condensed from an obituary published in the Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Canada.]


Ernest August Mengersen, 1945 - 2009. The Entomological fraternity and Olds College lost a revered member and an outstanding teacher when Ernest Mengersen passed away on July 20, 2009 at the age of 64 in the Linden Nursing Home.

Ernest was born 18 June 1945 in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to August F. and Johanna (Poetzsch) Mengersen. The family moved to Duncan, B.C. in 1946 and later to Campbell River, B.C. Ernest spoke only German until he enrolled in grade one. Ernest took his elementary and secondary education in Campbell River. He received a grade 13 diploma at Concordia College in Edmonton in 1964. He then returned to Campbell River and worked in a paper mill for two years. He attended Concordia Teacher’s College in Seward, Nebraska, from 1966 to 1970 earning a B.S. Ed degree. While there, Ernest met and then married Karen June Petersen on August 10, 1966, in Whittier, California. Ernest then took graduate studies at Oregon State University in Corvallis, majoring in Entomology and minoring in Zoology. He left his graduate studies to teach grade 7 and 8 at St. John’s Lutheran School in Stony Plain, Alberta from 1972 to 1973. He then took on a job as dairy herdsman in the Stony Plain area and, at the same time, attended the University of Alberta where he earned a B. Sc. Ag. degree in June 1974. Ernest was a crop inspector for the Plant Products Division of Canada Agriculture from 1974 to 1976. In September 1976 he took a contract position at Olds College to teach a wide range of Agriculture courses from Botany to Entomology. He became a permanent staff member in September 1977. He began the Master of Pest Management program at Simon Fraser University from September 1989 to August 1990 but health problems prevented him from graduating. Ernest had severe angina in 1992 that required two angioplasties. Heart problems kept recurring and these eventually resulted in his leaving Olds College in February 2004.

When Ernest arrived at Olds College, there was a collection of around 10,000 insects, put together by Buck Godwin and Buck’s students. When Ernest left the College, the collection had approximately 55,000 specimens. Most of the additions were made by Ernest, but many were made by his students, especially through insect collections that they made as part of the entomology classes that they took from Ernest. This collection is regarded to have the best representation of short grass prairie ecozone Lepidoptera in western Canada.

Hugh Philip and Ernest Mengersen were the authors of a widely used book, “Insect Pests of the Prairies” which was published in 1989 by the University of Alberta, Faculty of Education. In the June 1989 Entomological Societies of Canada and Alberta publication “Entomologists of Alberta” authored by Paul Riegert, Riegert recognized “Ernest Mengersen for his yeoman effort to contact all living Alberta entomologists and obtain biographical details”.

Greg Pohl of the Canadian Forest Service, made the following comments after learning of Ernest’s passing; “I will miss his infectious enthusiasm for all things entomological – his interest and frequent visits to Edmonton in the 1990’s were vital in building the community that is the Alberta Lepidopterist’s Guild. I have fond memories of his visits to the Forestry collection with many a drawer of interesting specimens he’d collected, and a half-day full of visiting and excited chatter over the insect collection. Usually it was Lepidoptera he brought, but sometimes it was beetles or moths, as he collected widely across many groups. He has certainly left his mark on the entomological community in Alberta, and he will be missed.”

Ernest was the local organizer for the inaugural meeting of the Alberta Lepidopterist’s Guild held at Olds College on October 16, 1999. Ernest was one of the founding members of the Guild. He was also the local organizer for the North American Lepidopterist’s Society Conference held at Olds College from July 27-27, 2003. In an interview at that time he made the following comments. “Studying insects goes hand-in-hand with studying horticulture, because there are three times as many insects as there are species of plants. For every insect feeding on a plant there are many more insects feeding on that insect, so it’s vital to understand the huge diversity and its impact. The insect world is a reflection of history, economics, science and our stewardship of the land. They are very important messengers of what might be coming next in our environment. We live in a fragile environment and every living thing, large or small, has an important role in the ecosystem. No one knows how far we can alter the environment with climatic change before we start to notice habitat changes, for example. But the insects are one of the first things to give clues to those answers.”

Ernest loved teaching and was equally loved by his many students. He once commented: “When you walk into a classroom, it has to be the most exciting time of your life”. He required his students to put together insect collections for his courses in agricultural, landscape and turf entomology and to identify the insects. As a result, many students developed a real love for, and a long-time interest in insects. He also did his best to keep in touch with his students. A typical comment by one of his former students is the following by Rob Hughes. “Ernest was my favorite teacher at Olds College. I always looked forward to, and couldn’t wait to get to his entomology classes.” Ernest loved his students and they were second in line to his insects. A typical absent-minded teacher, Ernest mentioned that, when he had his first session with a new class, he would appoint one student to watch where he put down his glasses so that that student could tell him where to look if he couldn’t find them at the end of the lecture.

Ernest kept the records for the Olds College weather station. He volunteered for a number of years with the Mountain View 4-H Dairy Club, and with Special Olympics Bowling. He served on the board of Horizon School when his son, Mark, was attending.

After leaving the College, Ernest purchased a Dodge truck which he had painted with a variety of moth images and which he called the “Moth Mobile”. The image above shows Ernest proudly standing beside the new vehicle. Sadly, declining health prevented him from using the vehicle the way he had hoped.

Ernest was predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Karen; sons Michael, Matthew and Mark, daughter Sarah, son-in-law Joe Shandera, their children Kieren and Talon; sister Rose Marie Fleming, step-brother Tedd Bobb, and their families. Sarah and Joe Shandera had a daughter, Isla Rain, born on August 10, 2009.

A Memorial Service was held at the Olds Church of the Nazarene on Saturday, July 25.

This article could not have been written without the extensive input provided by Ernest’s wife Karen, whose help is gratefully acknowledged.

[Charles Durham Bird and Ken Fry]

Dr. Ruby Larson (1914 - 2011) (Lethbridge, AB) was transferred to the present-day Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Centre from Swift Current in 1948. She worked on cytogenetics of wheat until she retired in 1979. She is a charter member of the ESA. In her spare time, she was dedicated to science education. She was a founding member of the Lethbridge Science Fair, and also created the Lethbridge Science Club. Every Saturday for over 20 years, she hosted this group of young enthusiasts in her basement. Graduates of her club include Dr. Ken Richards (Ph.D. in Entomology), Dr. Joe Shorthouse (Ph.D. in Entomology), Dr. J. Haberman (M.D.), Dr. Dave Larson (Ph.D. in Entomology), and Dr. Carol Brosgart (M.D.). In addition to her professional accomplishments, which have been internationally recognized, she was awarded the Carr Award by the ESA (for her contributions to encourage amateur entomology) and the Criddle Award by the Entomological Society of Canada.

Mr. Joseph Gurba (1922 - 2009) P. Ag. (Edmonton, AB) graduated with a B.Sc. (Ag) from the University of Alberta in 1950, and spent 33 years with Alberta Agriculture as a District Agrologist (3 years) and Head in the Crop Protection Branch. Typical programs with which Joseph was involved included warble fly and louse control in cattle, outbreaks of Bertha armyworm, corn leaf aphid and grasshoppers, and keeping Alberta free of new pests [e.g., Norway rat, skunk rabies and Dutch Elm disease (bark beetle vector)]. A team approach was essential to coordinate various interests at federal, provincial, municipal and industry levels through committees and training programmes, to develop solutions to controversial problems in pest control, pesticides, pollution, etc. A dramatic example was the unexpected outbreak of the Bertha armyworm in August 1971. Lannate insecticide received emergency registration within 48 hours; a plane load of Lannate arrived overnight from Dallas, Texas; spray planes and trained municipal crews saved from serious damage 250,000 acres of canola a scant week before harvest. Since retirement in 1983, Joseph has maintained an active interest in his family farm which specializes in pedigree seed production. In addition, Joseph has served with the Canadian Executive Service Organization as a Volunteer Advisor with a total of seven projects that have taken him to Antigua (flies in resorts), Bolivia (safe use of pesticides), China (2 - alpine grassland pests and stored grain insects), Columbia (2 - biological pest control in oil palms) and Costa Rica (hotel pests).

Peter Harris image Dr. Peter Harris (1930-2014; Lethbridge, AB), who emigrated to Canada from England as a young man, first obtained a BSc in Forestry (1955) at the University of British Columbia, and then a PhD in entomology at the University of London (1958). In 1959, he was hired as a weed biological control scientist with Agriculture Canada, which was the beginning of a highly productive career that spanned 36 years and several research facilities (Belleville, Ontario 1959-72; Regina, Saskatchewan 1972-92; Lethbridge, Alberta 1992-95). After Peter retired in 1995, he continued to work as an emeritus scientist at Lethbridge until early 2014. Peter was internationally recognized for his many contributions to both the science and application of classical weed biological control. Particularly, he will be remembered for his successful use of European and Eurasian insects in the control of some of North America’s most invasive rangeland weeds (e.g. leafy spurge, knapweeds, tansy ragwort, nodding thistle). During his career, Peter released and field assessed 36 insect and one nematode species, of which 70% established in Canada, with about a third of these having a measureable impact on their weed hosts and accruing significant savings for livestock producers. Together with colleagues, Peter also played a major role in the development of currently used host specificity testing protocols to investigate the safety of candidate biocontrol agents prior to release. He also was the first to implement an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of weed biological control. Of Peter’s many awards, those that stand out are the Entomological Society of Canada’s Gold Medal (1997) and induction as a member of the Order of Canada (1997). Peter was made an Honorary Member of the ESAB in 2008.

   
Mr. Evan Thomas Gushul (1916 - 2014) (APSA, RBP) (Lethbridge, AB) is a Registered Biological Photographer, and retired from the Lethbridge Research Centre of Agriculture Canada. Evan worked with every entomologist and photographed a wide variety of insects, and provided instruction and critique to entomology summer students. Evan presented numerous papers and demonstrations on insect photography at meetings of the Entomological Society of Alberta (ESA), and entertained meeting attendees to slide shows following talks by guest speakers. To determine if his methods and results were acceptable, Evan entered photographs at insect photo salons during meetings of the Entomological Society of America and the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC). At numerous meetings of the ESA and during joint ESA-ESC meetings Evan served as projectionist and photographer of speakers and guests, and later prepared composite images for publication in the Proceedings of the ESA. To avoid disturbing speakers during their presentations, Evan used his own equipment that operated silently and employed no flash. Evan also produced 16 mm films on subjects that included leafcutter bee pollination in alfalfa, black fly problems in the Athabasca region, warble fly biology in the foothills and prairies of Alberta. Equipment that Evan built to help him with difficult photographic tasks includes a "frame finder" to photograph moving insects, and a "plumber's nightmare" to take close-up photos of bumble bee eggs in the field. Evan has fond recollections of a field research project that aimed to discover bumble bee species that could pollinate alfalfa. Field studies were conducted in the mountains, foothills and prairies of Alberta. Evan stated that he "lived with [the bees] in their environment in a 65-foot trailer", and did the cooking, welding, mechanical up-keep, photography, and helped with identifying native bees. He also recorded the "nite-life" of insects. Visiting entomologists enjoyed seeing the project sites and the meals. Evan said that he fed eight scientists for $1.86 -- cabbage rolls and strawberry shortcake. Evan was awarded a special citation from Agriculture Canada Director General Dr. B. Migicouski for work associated with a team headed by Dr. Gordon Hobbs that created a successful alfalfa seed pollination program for the prairies. For his contribution to world agriculture, Evan was awarded an Associateship in the Photographic Society of America.

Updated: October 27, 2016

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