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Death of Julius Boos


Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that I report the passing this weekend of the
incomparable Julius Boos. Even passive readers of this space will
recognize the importance of this man for the world of aroids and in
the vitality of the discussions that are recorded here. While we are
blessed with a number of remarkable people in the International Aroid
Society, few will argue that Julius was one of the most remarkable.
Anyone fortunate enough to have met him personally will remember the
radiance of his personality. He was just as ready to speak on equal
terms with the greenest greenhorn as with seasoned aroid specialists
steeped in decades of experience. I am grateful to have known him as a
friend. Julius had many, many friends.

Of course, we all knew him as an authority on aroids, especially
regarding their practical cultivation and the fascinating interface of
the plants with humans. He was a special expert in the world of edible
aroid “chubas” (“chubas” is an endearing term invented by this aroid
list and refers to how Julius pronounced the ordinary English “tubers”
in his charming Trinidadian accent), taking advantage of his lifetime
in South America, Florida, and the Caribbean islands, and his
unapologetic love of food. We were fond of joking that if a dispute
arose about the identity of an aroid “chuba”, we could always send a
specimen to Julius and he would figure out what is was by taking a
bite.

Trinidadian by birth and inclination, his understanding of the natural
history of tropical areas was profound. His interests were unlimited
as far as I could tell. For last year’s International Aroid Society
Annual Show, I was fortunate to have the opportunity of driving him
from his home in West Palm Beach to Miami. Although already
experiencing the effects of his cancer at that time, he spoke to me
almost nonstop the entire way. Topics ranged widely. Invariably one
thing reminded him of another and so the threads of conversation would
wander here and there, but always coherent and never tedious. I should
emphasize that Julius’s knowledge of his favorite topics was
extensive, well-considered, and typically included a host of acute
observations and facts that you would not find written down anywhere
(except perhaps in one of his own writings). He involved himself in
disputes on occasion with this or that “expert”. I would love to know
his lifetime batting average in these differences of opinion. My bet
is that Julius was right more often than he was wrong.

All his conversation was interspersed with an amazing set of anecdotes
drawn from his wide experience. Much of what he knew will die with
him, of course. Many of his stories related to interesting
individuals, now long dead, with particular knowledge lost to history.
Several of these stories were recorded by him in past months and are
available for all to hear on the web site of his friend and neighbor,
Ted Knight (www.tedknight.com/julius/julius.htm). I recommend
listening to them as they not only relate the particular history, but
capture the cadence and beautiful accent that made Julius such an
engaging raconteur. This site also hosts quite a few pictures of
Julius and friends.

Now we have lost two pillars of the International Aroid Society in a
short month’s time: Julius Boos and Tricia Frank. We can only hope
that new blood will take up the leadership roles to ensure the
continued success of our organization into the future. This would be
the finest memorial for the both of them.

Readers here should also know how important Aroid-L was to Julius. In
his prime (not so many months ago) he would be in the thick of
extended back-and-forth discussions of identification clarifications
and of mysteries being hashed out. Frequently the topic would shift
slightly and involve any number of interesting tangents. Dry botanical
terms would be explicated. Recipes for tasty island dishes
incorporating “chubas” would be exchanged. Cultivation advice would be
given. This life of the “net” was a huge part of what inspired Julius;
and everyone who contributed helped pump up, even more, Julius’s
already high energy level. In his waning days he would still read the
posts, occasionally typing in some abbreviated response despite being
so weak. Your postings inspired him to the last and made enduring his
miserable disease easier.

It is a sad time for all of us. As always, life will go on and all of
us in the International Aroid Society hope that the upcoming show this
fall will serve to continue Julius’s and Tricia’s work to inform the
world of the deeper joys of keeping our favorite plants. May they both
rest in peace and know that the work goes on.

Julius is survived by his dear wife, Suzie. My thoughts are with her.

Ted Held
Detroit

Attachment: Julius and Suzie.JPG
Description: JPEG image

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