Noted botanist Hugh Iltis helped get DDT banned

Life Member Hugh Iltis, 91, died Dec. 16, 2016, in Madison, Wis.

Hugh was a renowned University of Wisconsin–Madison plant geographer, educator, conservationist and mentor to botany students.

He was a co-founder of the Wisconsin branch of the Nature Conservancy in 1960 and inspired other projects in Wisconsin, Hawaii and Mexico.

Hugh was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1925. His father, Hugo, a botanist and educator, wrote the definitive biography of Gregor Mendel, the founder of genetics.

Hugh graduated from the University of Tennessee and then earned a Ph.D. in botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden. In 1955, he joined the Botany Department at UW–Madison as director of the herbarium.

He then got involved in ecological consciousness and, in 1968, helped make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to ban the pesticide DDT.

Stanley Temple, UW–Madison Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation, told David Tenenbaum, science writer for UW: “His annual guest lecture in my biodiversity class was always packed with gibes at religious leaders for opposing population control, politicians for shortsighted, environmentally damaging worldviews, industry for being greedy, and anyone else for being ignorant. He finished each lecture by admonishing students ‘to be a good ancestor’ and leave a better world for future generations. Hugh’s life was certainly guided by that maxim.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation