I was saddened to hear of the death of Professor Henry Horn (In Memoriam, April 10). I first met him in fall 1971, I think, while I was walking in the Institute for Advanced Study’s woods, seeking a dose of wildness. We got to talking and he showed me all the pockets of his carpenter’s overalls, useful for stowing the creatures he’d collected. As a biology major I was astonished: I’d thought biologists studied only molecules and cells. I became an ecologist that day.
Later I took Horn’s ecology course and got to know the Institute Woods intimately by crawling through the undergrowth, identifying and counting tree seedlings that would eventually grow into the forest canopy. Throughout my teaching career I’ve used Horn’s The Adaptive Geometry of Trees in lectures and subjected my students to the same forest crawl.
I recall him telling us on the first day of class that he assumed we could read the textbook on our own; he would be using class to talk about more interesting things. His droll sense of humor animated his lectures, but it wasn’t until I read the article about him in the Sept. 24, 2001, PAW that I glimpsed something of his complexity: his alter egos (J. Chester Farnsworth, Elisabeth Seaport, and others), the artwork (including my favorite, “Computer Bugs Returning from the Kill”), the love of music, the commitment to science education and local environmental concerns. I wish I’d known him better.
Editor’s note: Read David Gorchov ’80’s remembrance of Henry Horn at PAW Online.