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Dr Robert R. “Boojum Bob” Humphrey

Dr Robert R. “Boojum Bob” Humphrey

Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, California, USA
Death 13 Mar 2002 (aged 97)
Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, USA
Burial Cremated
Memorial ID 6287290 · View Source
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The Arizona Daily Star, March 19, 2002
HUMPHREY, Robert R., 97, professor, March 13, Bring's Broadway.
The Arizona Daily Star, March 22, 2002
"Boojum Bob" Humphrey, beloved at UA, dies at 97

Retired UA professor Robert R. Humphrey, whose definitive study of boojum trees placed him among the Sonoran Desert's most prominent scholars and admirers, died March 13. He was 97.

Humphrey's 1974 book, "The Boojum and Its Home" was the first extensive study of the rare tree, a close relative of the ocotillo, which can grow to more than 70 feet and is found exclusively on Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

Admirers of a trio of boojums in the University of Arizona's Joseph Wood Krutch Garden put Humphrey's research back in the spotlight this year. UA officials decided last month that the trees will remain after hundreds of people rallied against a plan to move the garden to make way for an alumni plaza. New plans will incorporate and expand the garden.

Humphrey joined the UA as an associate professor of botany in 1948. He left the university in 1966 and traveled around Mexico with his wife, researching the boojums and their habitat for his book, published by the UA Press.

Humphrey, known as "Boojum Bob," discovered the largest boojum on record, measuring 86 feet.

His daughter, Shirley Schoof, said she grew up sharing her father's love of the boojums. She said the whole family spent one Christmas vacation in Mexico, helping to measure the trees and count seedlings.

"His whole life was centered around his dedication to the desert," Schoof said. "He loved the desert, he loved the mountains and he loved the plants."

Humphrey was born in Palo Alto, Calif. on June 14, 1904. He grew up largely in the woods of Maryland and, in a 1998 interview for the Arizona Historical Society, said botany was a great love of his from childhood.

He married in 1929 and earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in botany and geology from the University of Minnesota, finishing in 1933 with his dissertation on the boojums.

Humphrey then worked for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service before joining the UA faculty to teach range ecology.

Humphrey is survived by his wife, Roberta; four children, Shirley Schoof of Tucson, Lois Angus of Las Vegas, Alan Humphrey of West Kingston, R.I., and Beth Grady of Grass Valley, Calif.; sister Heidi Haas of Tucson; and brother David Humphrey of Prescott. No services are planned.

Written by science-writing intern wth the NASA Space Grant program at UA. His contact information was (520)807-8430 or

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  • Created by: Cori H
  • Added: 24 Mar 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6287290
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Robert R. “Boojum Bob” Humphrey (14 Jun 1904–13 Mar 2002), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6287290, ; Maintained by Cori H (contributor 46481123) Cremated.