Clement Gray Bowers - 1894 -1973
Richard M. Lewis, Director
Audrey H. O'Connor, Editor
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Clement Gray Bowers, eminent plant scientist, author and hybridizer of note, died on April 12 at the age of 79. A native of Binghamton, New York, Dr. Bowers was considered one of the world's leading authorities on rhododendrons. In 1960 he received the Jackson Dawson Medal, an honorary award given by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. At that time his book, Rhododendrons and Azaleas (1936, second edition 1960) was cited as "one of the true classics of garden literature."
Dr. Bowers received B.S. and M.S. degrees at Cornell University in 1923 and 1925 and a Ph.D. in botany from Columbia University in 1930. His doctoral research was based on cytological studies in the genus Rhododendron. His early research in genetics, cytology and plant sterility was carried on at the New York Botanical Garden. Dr. Bowers later pursued an independent career in plant breeding and as a horticultural consultant and lecturer. He discovered the origin of viscin strands in some plant pollens and developed new techniques in plant hybridization.
His interest in education continued and led him to serve as a lecturer in botany at State University of New York units at Syracuse and Binghamton, New York. In 1948 he was appointed a research associate in ornamental horticulture at Cornell University. He was active until his death as a member of the Cornell Plantations Faculty Committee and as a Sponsor of the Cornell Plantations, the arboretum-natural areas enterprise of Cornell University.
He was a founder of Pi Alpha Xi, national collegiate honor society in floriculture, and of the Men's Garden Club of Broome County. He was a member of many professional societies, including fellowships in the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Botany Society of America. He was a charter member of the American Horticultural Council and of the American Rhododendron Society and contributed to the long range planning of many horticultural organizations.
On the international scene, Dr. Bowers served as vice-chairman of the section on plant breeding methods and as director of floriculture exhibits for the Sixth International Congress of Genetics in 1932. In 1949 in London, he was presented to Queen Mother Elizabeth as an "outstanding American scientist." He was also a member of the International Committee for Horticultural Nomenclature from 1952 to 1955.
Clement Bowers' wife, the former Janet R. Whitney, died in January, 1972, 48 years after their marriage. He is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Lawrence Bothell of Cambridge, Mass.