On Sunday, July 10, dozens of friends, family, and colleagues gathered at UMBS to celebrate the life of former director Dr. David M. Gates, who died on March 4 of this year.

Current director Knute Nadelhoffer began the ceremony with remarks about Gates’s personality, accomplishments and impact on the Biological Station.

“David was a humanist, a compassionate person who cared for his family and friends,” Nadelhoffer said. “He worked at many levels to provide a more sustainable and just world.”

Following Nadelhoffer’s comments, family led the ceremony by sharing stories about Gates. His children—Murray, Julie, Marilyn and Heather—and their spouses spoke of Gates’ devotion to his work as a biophysicist, to the Biological Station and to his wife of 61 years, Marian. Many spoke especially of Gates’ role as a caretaker when Marian was stricken with cancer.

“The true measure of a human being is seen in times like that,” said Colin, Gates’s grandson.

After family members shared their memories, friends and colleagues spoke of their experiences with Gates. Many addressed his strong personality, his leadership qualities, his optimism and his passion for the outdoors. Guests continued to share laughter, appreciation and memories of Dr. Gates at an outdoor picnic following the memorial.

Gates first came to UMBS in 1923 as a two-year-old, hailing from Manhattan, Kansas where his father was a botanist and his mother was a teacher. He harbored an interest in plants and the outdoors from a young age, eventually becoming an Eagle Scout. All three of Gates’s degrees (a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D.) came from the University of Michigan, where he studied physics and took classes at the Biological Station. In 1965, after teaching in Colorado, he became director of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, before returning to his roots on Douglas Lake in 1971. He then taught botany at UMBS and became its director until 1986. UMBS students continue to benefit from the generous scholarships in his name.


David Gates's children at the July 10 memorial for their father. From left: Julie, Marilyn, Heather and Murray.

Photo credits: Mary Scholtens.