…continue to accumulate poignant stories. Go read.
I am late to finding this (my first) blog, but I want to acknowledge how key Roy Snelling was to my development as an ant ecologist. In the interest of a joint research project, my graduate research adviser (Jim Brown) sent me to Harvard to ‘learn ants’. Jim’s undergraduate mentor Bill Brown was there on sabbatical, and I almost dispaired when he told me to “forget ants, go away and have babies”. Roy rescued me from this false start, always treating me as a colleague. And any career success I have enjoyed is attributable largely to his willingness to teach me ants by identifying my specimens from all over the world. IDs often came with a (well-deserved) curmudgeonly jab at my ignorance, but this was never done in a destructive way.
Roy was also a generous friend. I was on my way from Peru to Australia and couldn’t figure out why I had written a note to myself about stopping by the US consulate in Lima, so I never went. Arriving in LA, I was booted off the flight to Australia for lack of a visa. Roy took me in, gave me an old sleeping bag he’d used in Mexico years ago (it literally crumbled around me), and helped with transport to the LA consulate and airport. Just before leaving for the airport, his cat urinated in my open suitcase, and there followed a mad rush to the laundry facility at his apartment!
Because Roy was a character larger than life, it is hard to believe that he is gone. I hope that acknowledgements of Roy’s many contributions to hymenopteran research will somewhat ease his family’s pain at their loss.
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