A Tribute to Clarence Frankton 1906-2000
Two events which say much about the way botanist Clarence (“Clarrie’) Frankton viewed the world and the study of its natural environment occurred in mid-May 2000, only weeks before his death 11 June. Although succumbing to the ravages of cancer and strokes which left him confined to his west-end Ottawa, Ontario home, he could only be described as “chipper” and even buoyant when botanical discoveries were put before him. Days earlier he had directed his wife Enid back to the shores of the Ottawa River to collect a particular specimen. Clarrie had been working on the identity of this non descript shrub since the previous fall and he was sure it would be in flower now. It was, and despite his substantial physical challenges, he worked the specimen through and determined it to be Prunus americana, precisely the rare (for the Ottawa Valley) introduced taxon that he had argued for all along. And in light of my earlier skepticism regarding that possibility, he made sure I was reminded right away how it all had turned out. His playful and inspiring competitiveness, however, was just as quickly put aside a few days later as he lauded the discovery of a locally rare native species (Cardamine bulbosa) and enthusiastically assessed the implications of the find. Clarrie was like that, always looking forward, always building upon what he already knew, always keenly anticipating the new challenge ahead.
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