Testimonials for Pioneer Member James Siedow

Susan F Booth – In addition to being an outstanding, respected scientist, professor, and mentor, Jim Siedow was also a dear friend. Known for his quick wit, Jim could find humor in many situations. He also cared deeply about people – and the arts and birds. He continues to be missed for his bright eyes, beautiful smile, witty remarks, and intellect.

Norman Christensen – In honor of a superb scientist, beloved teacher and friend to so many.

David A Day – Jim Siedow was a pioneer of plant physiology. He made seminal contributions to our understanding of plant respiration, especially the role of the alternative oxidase in plant metabolism and the plant’s response to oxidative stress. He published extensively and made essential contributions to text books on plant physiology. He also served the Society in several ways, including being President and representing the Society in Washington.

Xinnian Dong – When I joined the faculty of Duke University in 1992, it was Jim Siedow who took me under his wing and introduced me, a microbial geneticist, to the field of plant physiology. During the 15 years as my office neighbor, Jim gave me so much help in research, in grant and manuscript preparation, and even in lab space, it is fair to say that without Jim, I would not have made it to where I am today. I feel very lucky to have had Jim as a mentor, a colleague and a dear friend in my scientific career. The American Society of Plant Biologists is significantly enriched to have had Jim as a former president and a fellow of the society. Jim’s legacy will live on through those of us who he helped.

David McClay – Jim was a no-nonsense scholar. His research standards were high and his thinking deep. At the same time he had a sharp wit and was a great and loyal friend to many. In a discussion there was a frequent “What’s your point?” statement to keep the discussion focused. He is missed.

William H. and Lisa Dellwo Schlesinger – When Jim died last November, Lisa and I felt a gut punch. He was a dear friend and, with Mary, a fellow birdwatcher, a connoisseur good food and drink, and a frequent purveyor of laughter and the raunchy joke.

Jim loved Mary, Duke, and science. They traveled widely, entertained elegantly, and enjoyed all manner of Duke activities—modern dance, art, basketball, and even the Academic Council. Jim would do most anything to foster Duke University’s success. Asked to lead one, Jim once asked me what I talked about on Duke alumni trips. When I said my research, he asked if I really thought that Duke alums would be interested in his elucidation of cyanide resistant plant respiration. I am not exactly sure what he eventually spoke about, but it worked and Jim and Mary led several of those excursions.

I know of no one who was better versed in plant biochemistry, yet more interested in understanding molecular biology as it came to dominate plant physiology. He made the graduate students in ecology think about what made plants function inside as well as out.

Jim did not suffer fools. He was where you went to get the truth in blunt terms. And he had a remarkable ability to be right. Jim had the quickest wit that I have ever known. When I once mentioned that my parents wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas, in an instant Jim suggested that I shouldn’t ask for a comb. When he was appointed to envision a future for the Primate Center, Jim suggested it might be a barbeque restaurant known as Prosimians.

Jim always liked a good party. If you were flagging, he would announce: “come on it’s only the shank of the evening” and that the merriment must go on. At such times, I never knew which end of the shank he meant, but merriment was found by all. In November, Jim reached the shank of his evening with Parkinson’s disease, which he fought bravely to the end. We’ve missed him and his merriment this past year and will miss him again, often, in the impoverished world that remains without him.

Gerty and Eric Ward – Jim was Eric’s undergraduate advisor at Duke, and Eric first met him in 1979 during his sophomore year. Jim ran the most difficult course in the Duke Botany Department: Plant Physiology, taken by a mixture of first year grad students and advanced undergrads. Among the more “routine” tasks one was expected to master was memorizing glycolysis and the TCA cycle, with structures of all intermediates, names of every enzyme, and the conversions they catalyzed. Jim was a rigorous, demanding, but informal teacher, and ran his class and the associated lab section like a workshop, where participation and collegiality were encouraged, alongside the highest academic standards. Eric came back to the Research Triangle Park in 1988 to work at Ciba-Geigy, after completing his PhD at Wash U in St. Louis, and his wife (Gerty) started a PhD in Genetics at NC State in Sam Levings’ lab. Jim was a collaborator of Sam’s, and served on Gerty’s thesis committee, where be provided useful direction, additional perspective, and a lot of fun. We (Gerty and Eric) ended up living down the street from Jim and Mary. They welcomed us into their home and we shared many enjoyable social engagements together. We most remember Jim for his boundless good humor–the most vivid memories are of sharing side-splitting laughter with him. He was super widely-read, interested in everything, a lover of good food, drink, and conversation, and a terrific raconteur. We miss him.