Robert William Lichtwardt

A Memorial for Robert W. Lichtwardt will be at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 17th, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Fellowship Hall at 1263 N 1100 Rd, Lawrence. His ashes are interred in the Pioneer Cemetery on the University of Kansas campus.

Dr. Lichtwardt died Friday February 9th at home, surrounded by his family.

He was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1924, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the fourth of six children of Henry H. and Ruth M. Lichtwardt. He held dual U.S. and Brazilian citizenship. He graduated from the American School in Rio de Janeiro in 1941. During World War II, he was 4F due to his eyesight and instead served the Naval Operating Base for the South Atlantic Fleet as a civilian employee through the U.S. Embassy in Brazil.

In 1945 he moved to the U.S. to attend Oberlin College from which he graduated with a BA in 1949. He received his Master of Science in 1951, and his Ph.D. in 1954 in Botany with an emphasis in Mycology from the University of Illinois. After conducting field work through a post-doctoral fellowship, and a post-doctoral position at the University of Iowa, in 1957 he became an assistant professor at the University of Kansas and moved to Lawrence. He became full professor in 1965 and was twice chair of the Department of Botany. He retired from teaching in 1995 but continued his research projects and mentoring graduate students as Professor Emeritus for another 20 years.

He held membership and offices in numerous national and international professional societies, and authored or co-authored over 130 publications. He traveled widely, conducting field research in 15 countries and multiple U.S. states. He had a wide variety of interests including hiking, camping, brewing beer, composing haiku, and playing the harmonica and the recorder. He was a Boy Scout and Boy Scout leader in Brazil, and played with an all-harmonica band on Brazilian national radio. He was a founding member and first chair of the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence and a member of the Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters.

He met his future wife Elizabeth (Betty) Thomas at Oberlin, and they married in 1951. She survives of the home.

Other survivors include two children, Ruth, Lawrence, Kansas, and Robert, Farmington, New Mexico; a brother, John, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Ouida and Marian, and brothers Harry and Edwin.

The family suggests memorials to the Robert W. Lichtwardt Student Research Award, or the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lawrence, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home.

Messages & Condolences

From Marvin C. Williams...

It was a privilege to work with Dr. Robert Lichtwardt in the study of
Trichomycetes. He shared his knowledge with so many including myself. He was a friend as well as an advisor. My sincere condolences to all his family.

From Jerry Jost...

Dear Betty,

I am sorry to hear of your loss. I always appreciated Bob stopping by the Kansas Land Trust office and sharing his love for the woodlands you preserved, news about your family, and conversations about the work of the Kansas Land Trust. KLT appreciates your generous gift to the Lawrence community with the Lichtwardt conservation easement which is now part of the Lawrence Nature Park. As we hike those trails, we can remember the love Bob and you had for this land.

From Carrie Lindsey...

Dear Betty,
Your partnership and marriage with Bob were always a source of awe for me. He was one of a kind, married to another one of a kind and parent to two of a kind. I will miss him and miss our conversations. Hugs to you all. Carrie

From Linda Finger...

Dear Betty,
It’s been so many years since I’ve seen you or we’ve talked in person! Bob and you have often been in my thoughts when I’ve read about current planning and land use issues. I can readily recall the tenacity and strength you brought in your presentations of a different and environment perspective on the issue(s) being discussed. In those memories, I recall the countless times Bob would accompany you, bringing you to commission meetings and waiting patiently for you to speak and present your passion on a particular land use or environmental issue to the planning commission or a governing body. I marveled at the joy you had as a couple with the passions and interests you shared and if not shared, supported. Bob was always such a quiet, reassuring force and quite a nice person to have a word with while we waited out the long meetings that took place in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
A light fades and goes on in the world when such a kind and gentle soul lays his head to rest a final time. My prayers and sympathies are with you , Ruth and Robert.

From Austin H. Turney...

Bob Lichtwardt was a remarkable, fascinating man. My most sincere condolences to Betty, Ruth and Robert.

From Paula Clarke...

I am not a Mycologist. But occasionally I would attend the MSA meetings with my Spouse, Merlin, who is a Mycologist and a former student of Dr. Lichtwardt. I don’t think he knew this, but I loved watching him at these meetings. I admired how his colleagues would seek him out and gather around him. He loved meeting new students and hearing of their research plans and accomplishments. He was modest, never intimated anyone and spoke to people with ease. He truly loved being around people. For me, it was like watching a Mycology rock star debut his fungal album. He oozed with knowledge and the respect and admiration that people had for him was really something you had to witness.
Thank you for all the Thanksgiving and Xmas meals you shared with us. Thank you for the 20 year cherry wine you brought to our house for New years Eve (you said you saved this for special occasions so I was honored by that) and thank you for the great pictures we took at the Hawaiian volcanoes. Apparently we were being dangerous. Who knew? I will miss you!

From Pramod Gaur...

My sincere condolences to dear Betty, Ruth and Rob. Bob Lichtwardt played an important role in my efforts to transition from an international student from far away to a scientist with doctorate degree. He taught me the skills that to this date I cherish. My wife Tai-Lih and I have many many fond memories when Bob and Betty will invite us for Thanksgiving dinner as we didn’t have any plans! Whole family was accepting us as extended family. His kindness and smile is always around us even though we didn’t get the opportunity to connect recently. Bob thanks for everything and RIP
Pramod and Tailih

From Bruce Horn...

I was fortunate to have studied under Bob Lichtwardt, who was always kind and patient and who was knowledgeable over a wide range of mycology. I will miss him. I offer my condolences to Betty, Ruth and Rob.

From Stephen Peterson...

He was a very kind and thoughtful person, always full of the joy of life. I am grateful to have know him. His mentorship and friendship were valued. For Betty, Ruth and Rob, my condolences.

From George Pisani...

Though I was not one of Bob’s students, I echo Martin’s thoughts. I saw Bob at the December retiree luncheon and we again shared a pleasant conversation. So sorry to learn of his passing– a truly fine fellow. To the family my condolences, and wish for peace and good memories.

From J. K. Misra...

A great loss to the friends and family. Our condolences to Betty, Ruth, and Robert.

From Merlin White & Paula Clarke...

No words can capture the emotion and sense of loss we are all feeling, collectively, whether family, friends, colleagues, or young and old alike. For those of us so fortunate to have become aware of and drawn in by his genuine and giving nature, there is sadness in his loss that is matched by an equal desire to recall all the wonderful moments so fondly. We each have so many of those that we can continue to share these in his memory for years to come. Our hearts and thoughts are with all of you.

From Martin Huss...

Dr. Robert Lichtwardt was a great teacher and mentor. I am very grateful to have known him and having been one of his students. I will miss him greatly. To Betty, Ruth, and Robert, please accept my heartfelt condolences at your loss.

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