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 Beatrice Elizabeth “Bettie” Willard

Beatrice Elizabeth “Bettie” Willard

California, USA
Death 7 Jan 2003 (aged 77)
Longmont, Boulder County, Colorado, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 149688051 · View Source
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American botanist. Specialized in studies on the ecology and botany of high Alpine tundra as well as Arctic tundra. Daughter of American landscape artist and photographer Stephen H. Willard.



Retired CU-Boulder faculty member Beatrice "Bettie" or "Bea" Willard died of natural causes on Jan. 7 at her residence in the Wellspring Memory Care Center in Louisville. She was 77.

Dr. Willard was born on Dec. 19, 1925, in Palm Springs, Calif., the daughter of Stephen H. Willard and Beatrice Armstrong Willard.

She earned a B.A. in biological sciences from Stanford University in 1947 and received a certificate of completion from the Yosemite Field School of Natural History in 1948 and a general secondary credential from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1949. She then received a fellowship from the Ford Foundation to pursue botanical studies in Europe for 14 months, where contact with eminent ecological scientists influenced the future direction of her work, and she met her mentor, John Marr, founder and director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at CU-Boulder.

Dr. Willard moved to Boulder in 1957. She earned an M.A. in botany/plant ecology in 1960 and a Ph.D. in botany/plant ecology in 1963, both from CU-Boulder, while serving as a research assistant for INSTAAR and as a teaching assistant for the department of biology.

Her life was one of vast accomplishments in her pioneering work as a botanist, ecologist, advocate, educator and author. She was a devoted daughter; a kind, loyal, generous friend; a beloved teacher; a faithful Christian Scientist; and a caring, philanthropic member of her community.

She grew up in a family that inspired and nurtured her early interests in the beauty and wonders of nature. At an early age, her mother, a teacher, and her father, a landscape photographer/painter, encouraged her to explore and read about the plants, animals, mountains and lakes where she lived during winters in the Palm Springs desert and summers in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes. At age 12, she was guiding people around Mammoth Lakes and educating them about the terrain. By age 18 she had developed a sizable guiding business.

Perhaps of greatest note is her unique 40 years of tundra plant research on Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park, which led to the creation of a trail system and the slow recovery of the tundra. Dr. Willard also initiated, organized and taught popular summer seminars in Alpine and Mountain Ecology for the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, and served as the first executive director for Thorne Ecological Institute and later as president and vice president. She founded and co-chaired the influential Seminar on Environmental Arts and Sciences for national and international policy and decision-makers in Aspen, and established, with Estella Leopold, the Florissant Fossil Lake Beds National Monument, for which the two women were awarded the Colorado Wildlife Federation's Conservationist of the Year Award.

She served on President Nixon's and President Ford's Second Council on Environmental Quality for five years, where she had a major influence in setting standards for protecting the environment during the design and construction of the Alaska Pipeline. She also created the very successful department of environmental sciences and engineering ecology at Colorado School of Mines, for which the United Nations presented her with an Outstanding Environmental Leadership Award.

Dr. Willard co-authored four popular books, A Guide to the Mammoth Lakes Sierra with Dean Rinehart and Elden Vestel (1959); Land Above the Trees, with A.N. Zwinger (1972), A Roadside Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park, with Susan Quimby Foster (1990) and Plants of Rocky Mountain National Park, with Linda H. Beidleman and Richard G. Beidleman (2000); as well as numerous articles and papers for a variety of publications.

She is survived by family members and numerous friends. A gathering to honor and celebrate Dr. Willard's life was held on Jan. 26 at the Community House in Chautauqua Park in Boulder. Memorial contributions may be made on behalf of Dr. Beatrice E. Willard to the CU Foundation, for the John W. Marr Ecology Fund, P.O. Box 1140, Boulder, CO 80306-1140.

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  • Created by: Terry Ellen (Todd) Ferl
  • Added: 23 Jul 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 149688051
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Beatrice Elizabeth “Bettie” Willard (19 Dec 1925–7 Jan 2003), Find A Grave Memorial no. 149688051, ; Maintained by Terry Ellen (Todd) Ferl (contributor 47880583) Unknown.