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University of Wyoming

Wilhelm Gerhard Solheim


Photo: Wilhelm G. Solheim, Ragnhild Solheim, Louis Williams, and Rua Williams.

Following is a chronology of some of the major events in the life of Professor Solheim. The quotes are from "In Memory" which appeared April 18, 1978 in The Campus Pulse, University of Wyoming. Additional information was obtained from an obituary by Drs. John W. Baxter and Martha Christensen published in Mycologia (71: 45-46) in 1979.


1898 May 13, he was born in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

1924 He received a B.A. degree from Iowa State Teachers College and later was awarded distinguished alumnus awards from that institution and from Augustana College in South Dakota which he attended from 1920 to 1922.

1926 He earned a M.A. and Ph.D. (1928) from the University of Illinois.

1928 He was an instructor in Botany at North Dakota Agricultural College, Fargo.

1929 He joined the faculty of the University of Wyoming.

1930 He was appointed head of the Department of Botany, a position he held until 1950.

1950 He planned and hosted a Mycological Foray for the Mycological Society of America at the University of Wyoming Science Camp.

1962 He was acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from October of that year to July 1963.

1963 He retired from the faculty and went to Afghanistan as chief of party of the University of Wyoming's contract with the U. S. Agency for International Development. He returned in 1965 and taught forest pathology at the University of Arizona until 1967.

1967 Upon return to Laramie, he immediately resumed research on parasitic fungi and the expansion of his well known Mycoflora Saximontanensis Exsiccata.

1978 May 9, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Wyoming for his service to the university and state and his international reputation as a mycologist.

1978 May 15, W. G. Solheim, professor emeritus of botany, died at his home in Laramie. He was survived by his wife Ragnhild, his son W. G. Solheim II, an anthropologist at the University of Hawaii, a grandson, three granddaughters, a great-grandson, and a sister.

 


 

Sabbatical Leaves:

1937, the Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University.

1948, the Department of Botany, University of California, Berkeley.

1957, the National Fungus Collection, Beltsville, Maryland.

Memberships:

Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Eta, Phi Sigma, Sigma Xi, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a founder of the Interstate Genetics Seminar.

Students:

Include Drs. John W. Baxter, George H. Bridgmon, Everett F. Morris, Francis M. Ownbey, Gerald B. Ownbey, Reed C. Rollins, Louis O. Williams, and Kenneth S. Wilson.

 


 

"Dr. Solheim was well-known for the quality of his teaching. His excellence and enthusiasm as a teacher helped direct many students into botany, several going on to advanced degrees and becoming eminent in this profession."

"Despite a heavy teaching load, crowded working conditions, and no research facilities at the University for many years, Dr. Solheim achieved international prominence for his research and is recognized for his significant contributions in a recent history of mycology in North America. His many years spent in collecting fungi and directing graduate work in mycology contributed to his reputation as probably the foremost authority on the parasitic fungi of the Rocky Mountain region. His extensive collection is cited in publications throughout the world. It generally is considered to be the most complete collection of parasitic fungi for the Central Rocky Mountain Region and is one of the three or four best-known and largest collections of fungi west of the Mississippi River. Because of lack of space at the University, Dr. Solheim maintained much of the herbarium at his home. His collection, containing approximately 50,000 specimens, has been contributed to by mycologists from around the world and is of inestimable value as a reference collection. He generously donated it to the University shortly before his death."

"Drs. R. L. Gilbertson and G. B. Cummins, mycologists at the University of Arizona and internationally recognized authorities on wood-rotting fungi and rusts respectively, collected with Bill over a span of many years, but especially in the 1960's when all three were in Tucson for at least several months of each year. Dr. Gilbertson spearheaded the posthumous publication of the last two centuries [XVI, XVII] of Bill's 'Mycoflora Saximontanensis' in April of 1979, and with Dr. Cummins and E. D. Darnall prepared and published a complete index to the formal collection. That 'Index to Mycoflora Saximontanensis Exsiccata' appeared in the October-December 1979 issue of MYCOTAXON. Dr. Gilbertson referred to Bill's work here as a '...monumental contribution to knowledge of Rocky Mountain fungi...' and he called the Mycoflora itself '...an appropriate monument to a dedicated mycologist and an admirable gentleman.'"

"Those who were fortunate enough to have studied or to have done research under Dr. Solheim will remember him as a dedicated teacher. His devotion to teaching and research, his good humor, his insistence on excellence, his stimulating intellect and Bill and Ronnie's warm hospitality will remain memorable to colleagues, students, and friends."