*In Memoriam, Samuel S. Ristich*
From - Barbara Grunden
Time - February 18th, 2008 @ 3:57 PM
Samuel S. Ristich, age 92, died on Monday, February 11, 2008. He is missed
by his wife of 63 years, Ruth, his five children, six grandchildren, two
great-grandchildren, friends, students, and colleagues for his enthusiasm,
professional accomplishments, and friendship. The day of his passing, Sam
had engaged in his usual aerobic exercises, corresponded with colleagues,
fed the birds and shoveled snow.
As founder of the Maine Mycological Association (MMA), Sam was
affectionately called the mushroom guru. Since 1976, the Northeast
Mycological Federation (NEMF), consisting of members from eight states and
Quebec, has named their annual foray in his honor. The Northern New England
Poison Control Center relied on Sam for the identification of potentially
deadly fungi and plants. Many nights his sleep was interrupted by police
conveying samples from emergency room doctors to identify specimens ingested
by young children or adults. In 2002, "Sam's Corner, the public journal of
a mushroom guru," was published. The book contains fifteen years of
articles published originally in "Mainely Mushroom", the newsletter of the
Maine Mycological Association. It reveals the wonderment and drama Sam
discovered in fungi. In 1983, Sam found a previously unknown species of
mushroom in the family Amanita. It was named *Amanita ristichii* in honor
Sam was passionately interested in the "wonderment of nature". His
indefatigable curiosity and zeal for sharing his excitement about the
natural world made him a superb teacher. For 15 years, Sam taught classes
at the New York Botanical Gardens. Sam organized a group of aspiring
naturalists who met regularly since 1984. These members referred to
themselves as "Sam's Disciples". As a member of both the Maine Audubon
Society and the Josselyn Botanical Society, Sam contributed displays and
lectures about all aspects of the natural world.
The son of Serbian immigrants, Sam toiled in the steel mills of Aliquippa,
Pennsylvania, to put himself through Slippery Rock State Teacher's College.
Sam earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Cornell University. He worked as a
research scientist at E.R. Squibb & Sons and the Boyce Thompson Institute
for Plant Research in Yonkers and Ithaca, N.Y.
While serving as an officer in the U.S. military in World War II, Sam was
stationed in Bermuda. It was there that Sam discovered evidence leading to
the rediscovery of a bird, the Cahow (Bermuda petrel), formerly believed
extinct. With his wife Ruth, Sam was active in the civil rights movement
from 1955 to 1975 with the NAACP and the Unitarian Social Action
Committee. Continuing with his work as a peace activist, Sam also worked
with the Veterans for Peace. Sam's volunteer work lasted throughout his
life. The North Yarmouth Conservation Commission named a nature trail in
Sam's honor. Sam had contributed innumerable hours to the North Yarmouth
Conservation Commission and was continuing to work on the preservation of
habitat in his community.
A celebration of Sam's life will be held on Sunday, February 24, at 2:00 p.m.,
at the First Universalist Church, 97 Main Street, Yarmouth.