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RE: Jim Hawes


Dear Linda Kofstad, and Hosta Open'ers, 

RE:>>Jim Hawes and 'Redolent Nosegay'.  

I have something in common with you, Linda.  I too had never met Jim Hawes but won H. 'Parky's Prize' in perhaps that same auction in which you won your H. 'Redolent Nosegay'.  

H. 'Parky's Prize' is a tremendously vigorous plant and Jim sent a wonderfully nice clump as a starter.  I've already had to split it because of it's just so vigorous.   I don't know the ploidy of this plant, as of yet, but I would wager that it is diploid or triploid.  So many of the triploids look great and it seems to grow much too fast for a tetraploid.  Many of the triploids take the best of the diploid and tetraploid plants and combine them into vigorous plants with lovely foliage (do they redirect energy toward foliage growth because they are not so worried about having fruitless sex?).  

This is the same type of problem that Jim loved to discuss and investigate.  I had such a discussion, which seemed primarily with Jim but certainly there were several involved, a few years back.  Toward the end of that dialogue, Jim posed a question which has motivated me to take at least a partially different route in life.  "Why is a tetraploid any better than a diploid?".   While many had a hunch that tets were better, Jim challenged that hunch because of a lack of supportive facts.  He was just that kind of guy. 

Jim Hawes liked people to have their facts straight.  Such spurred me on to begin serious, self-directed study on genetics, including taking a DNA sequencing lab workshop in 2001.  Of course, I knew the coursework would be non-trivial, yet a personal letter from Jim encouraged me to get serious about finding answers.  It is when one gets passionate about finding an answers that one's best work is done.  He, and that discussion, brought me out of textbook hybernation and changed a goodly portion of my life.   

Additionally, it was Jim's challenging of Ben Zonneveld and some of Ben's "Rules of Thumb" that actually, for a brief moment in time, advanced Hosta Science at what seemed a much faster pace than any other dialogue on the Hosta Open, or in the AHS Journal (personal opinion).  It was that very challenge that made me study enough about flow cytometry to undertake a little study myself.  The unpublished work supported Ben's results yet I did not directly share this with Jim.  This was not the point of the effort.  The point was that the debate of both men helped me grow.  

As Ben and Jim engaged in several heated discussions, it kept many of the rest of us thinking.   The fruit from such debates is often new knowledge, though the kitchen does get a little warm (those who not appreciate such debates should not "wander into the kitchen").   I was saddened that the AHS Journal chose not to faciliate the ongoing debate.  Seemingly, little progress has been made since.  Fortunately, the Journal of Hosta Science fills a bit of the void, but a great deal of momentum has been lost.  

Who will emerge to fill the void left by the abscence of Jim Hawes?  No one.  He was God's unique creation and we will indeed miss him.      

While I have yet to initiate even my first attempt at sequencing the tiniest segment of Hosta DNA, without Jim Hawes (and Ben Z.) encouraging me, both publicly and privately, I wouldn't even have an inkling of an idea of what I was talking about.   It is advancement of different points of view, exemplified in alternative courses of research study which often produce contentious results.  Such results lead researches and scientists to seek better understanding and eventually, to facts.    

I only "met" Jim Hawes via video tape (Winter Scientific Meeting), and through this Hosta Open.  How could I say I knew the man; I cannot.   Yet, I shall never forget his words, "Why is a tetraploid any better than a diploid".   How much greater the grief of those who actually knew him and were close.  Bill Meyer, Dan Nelson, John Lanier, and the oh so many folks like Linda -- I offer condolences for your loss.   

Until we join you, Mr. Jim Hawes, may God Bless those who grieve your absence and grant them peace.  You've made your mark; you've served your tour of duty.  Now it's time for you to enjoy your peaceful rest ... in that great Hosta Garden in the sky.    

Andrew Lietzow
Des Moines
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