Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

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Harold C. Bold died at his home in Austin on Friday, December 18, 1987. At the time of his death, Dr. Bold was the C. L. Lundell Professor Emeritus of Systematic Botany in the Department of Botany. Dr. Bold was a member of The University of Texas at Austin faculty from 1957 until his retirement in 1978. He was an active participant in University and scholarly affairs until he died.

Dr. Bold was born on June 16, 1909, in New York City. He was the great-grandson of the famous painter Severin Roesen. Dr. Bold was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Columbia University, where he received a BA degree in biology in 1929. In 1931, he received an MS degree from the University of Vermont. Dr. Bold earned a PhD degree in botany from Columbia University in 1933.

Dr. Bold had a lifelong interest in botany and plants. His first professional appointment was as an instructor in botany at the University of Vermont, where he remained for three years. In 1939-1940, Dr. Bold was a visiting lecturer at Barnard College, and from 1940 to 1942, he was an assistant professor of botany at Columbia University.

Dr. Bold's teaching responsibilities were interrupted during World War II. From 1942 to 1945, he was on active duty in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander.

In 1945, Dr. Bold returned to teaching and research as an associate professor of biology at Vanderbilt University. In 1949, he was promoted to professor of biology and was in charge of the Division of Botany. He remained at Vanderbilt University until coming to UT Austin in 1957 as a professor of botany. From 1975 until his retirement in 1978, he held the C. L. Lundell Professorship of Systematic Botany.

With Dr. Bold's arrival at the University in 1957, a resurgence began in the Department of Botany. Under his leadership, the department gained national recognition and it was consistently ranked as the top botany department in the nation until it was dissolved in 1999. Dr. Bold was chairman of the department from 1962 to 1968.

Dr. Bold was a true scholar and he wrote one of the most widely-used general textbooks in botany, Morphology of Plants, published in 1957 by Harper and Brothers. This book was translated into many languages and was the world-wide reference for introductory botany. He wrote another very popular textbook, The Plant Kingdom, in 1961, published by Prentice-Hall. Dr. Bold also contributed to various encyclopedias and was the author of 80 scientific papers.

Dr. Bold was a humanitarian, and his students were his most important focus. Known as a true scholar and a gentleman, Dr. Bold's courses in phycology and general botany were taken by thousands of undergraduates. He made his classes interesting through anecdotes used to bring the history of science into perspective. Dr. Bold was a gifted artist and often would have the blackboard completely filled at the end of the lecture with life cycles, plant tissues, and cellular and organ morphology. Dr. Bold's courses were the source for many of his graduate students, although many were recruited nationally. Dr. Bold's teaching efforts were rewarded in 1972 with Standard Oil (Indiana) Foundation's Outstanding Teaching Award. He used these funds to establish the H. C. Bold Prize for Teaching Assistants in the Department of Botany.

In the area of graduate education, Harold C. Bold made an indelible mark, as most of his doctoral students went on to successful careers in colleges and universities. Being a graduate student of Dr. Bold's was like being taken under a wing. He was always interested in teaching the student powers of observation through the microscope, followed by editing and correcting papers. It is no accident that Dr. Bold's students gained great insight in the art and science of manuscript preparation. Dr. Bold gave his graduate students an early taste for publication excellence through The University of Texas publication series "Phycological Studies." More than eleven dissertations were published in this series, thanks to his careful tutelage. Dr. Bold and his graduate students discovered and described approximately 75 new species of soil algae. During his career, Harold C. Bold directed the research of 42 doctoral students, including 31 on the UT Austin campus.

In a gesture of solidarity of support behind their major professor, 26 of Dr. Bold's present and former students honored him with a banquet in 1973. They presented him a book authored by his former students entitled Contributions in Phycology. The forward to this book gave an eloquent testimonial to his dedication as a teacher and described his greatest strength as being ". . . his characteristic consideration of each student as an individual whose potential for development is and should be limited only by the student himself." Also, ". . . the magnetism of his lectures on plants, wherein organisms and their parts seemed to come alive from a combination of chalk-on-blackboard finesse, along with the self confidence he instilled in us, provided opportunities for us to pursue more rapidly the paths to our post-doctoral goals."

This particular banquet led to the establishment of a fund drive in the Phycological Society of America to develop the "Bold Award," given each year to the best graduate student paper presented at the national meetings. To this day, the "Bold Award" is one of the highlights in the annual meetings of the society.

Fourteen years later, on August 6, 1987, Dr. Bold's former students organized a "Harold Bold Reunion" for him in Austin. It was a gala celebration in the Faculty Center, and when each student presented Dr. Bold with a brief recollection of their association, Harold "roasted" each student with "story #99d," remembering in vivid detail some interesting aspect of the student's past. A video recording of this event was made and was among the last recorded events of Dr. Bold.

Dr. Bold received many national and international awards and honors. Among these, his election in 1973 to the U.S. National Academy of Science was one of his most cherished. A year later, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also named "Distinguished Alumnus" of Vanderbilt University in 1957, and he was presented a "Distinguished Service Award" at the University of Vermont in 1979. He was a longtime editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Botany, and president of the Botanical Society of America. This society also conferred on him its highest honor, the "Award of Merit." He was president and a founding member of the Phycological Society of America. In 1983 President Peter T. Flawn, in recognition of his teaching excellence, indefatigable research, and good campus citizenship, bestowed the "Presidential Citation" upon Dr. Bold.

Music was an important part of Dr. Bold's life. He maintained an active correspondence with the Steinway brothers who owned the Steinway Piano Company in New York City. His wife, Mary, was an accomplished pianist and taught at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Bold played both the piano and organ, and it was always a delight when students and colleagues, invited to their elegant home on Duval Avenue, experienced a concert by Harold and Mary on their two Steinway grand pianos. Dr. Bold also was an avid fan of Charles Dickens, and he read and carefully studied the works of Dickens and other Victorian novelists. Dr. Bold and his wife were extensive travelers, preferring trains or boats. They sailed to England three times in six years on the Queen Elizabeth II.

Harold Bold was deeply religious. He put his faith into practice. Every morning for several hours, seven days a week, he faithfully went to Seton Hospital where he was an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, helping the Roman Catholic priest serve Holy Communion to patients.

Harold Bold gave generously to The University of Texas. Upon the death of his wife, Dr. Bold provided funds to establish the Mary D. Bold Regents Professorship of Music in her honor. In addition, he gave resources to establish the Mary D. Bold Scholarship Fund in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Bold cared truly for all those who worked for him. On the occasion of the retirement of Frances Denny, who was his secretary from 1957 to 1984, Dr. Bold wrote the following poem:

"The years have been good to Bot. and to Denny
We would not exchange either for any
But the time has come to get her work done
She will be missed by many, many."

For all who knew Dr. Harold C. Bold, he is missed by "many, many."


Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin


John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors R. Malcolm Brown, Jr. (chair) and Jerry Brand.