CARBONDALE - Donald Ugent, 77, botanist and professor emeritus at SIU Carbon-dale, died Fri-day, Sept. 2, 2011, in Mem-orial Hospital of Carbon-dale.
He was born Dec. 20, 1933, in Chicago, to Jacob and Rose Ugent and grew up in Milwaukee, where he married Vivian Balkansky on July 15, 1962.
Ugent received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in botany and genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He moved to Carbondale in 1967 and joined the botany faculty. He was internationally known as an ethno and economic botanist, taxonomist, geneticist, author and authority on the origins of wild and cultivated potatoes, especially ancient species from Peru and the Andes. Ugent was also the world's expert on identification of archaeological coca and was the botanist for several archaeological sites in Peru, identifying a 10,000-year-old potato. Early in his career, he had a cover story, "The Potato," in Science magazine, and he continued to publish many scientific articles throughout his career and in retirement. He served as the editor of the Journal of Economic Botany and was the founder and editor of the online journal Ethno-botanical Leaflets. In 2006, he was honored by the government of Peru on the publication of La Etno-botanica del Peru, one of many projects of 50 years of collaboration with Carlos Ochoa of Lima, Peru. He was recognized as the father of starch grain identification by Australia in 1988. He described several species new to science, and several plants bear his name.
Dr. Ugent was in the Army Reserves. He also served in many leadership positions, both at the university and in the community, including the Faculty Senate and Interfaith Dialogue. He also provided movie classes in his home theater for Learning and Retirement and other organizations. At the time of his death, he was serving on the Jackson County FEMA board and the Friends of the Women's Center.
He was a loving husband and father and an involved member of his community, and would always help a neighbor or friend, especially with computers.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Vivian Ugent; two daughters, Risa (Greg-ory) Eaton of South Riding, Va., and Amy Ugent of Carbon-dale; one son, Jonathan (Tamela) Ugent, also of Carbondale; two granddaughters, Nora and Marg-aret Eaton of South Riding, Va.; one grandson, Samuel Eaton of South Riding, Va.; one sister, Barbara Heling of Pembrook Pines, Fla.; one sister-in-law, Carol Ugent of Algon-quin; two nieces, Lauryanne (Sam) Kossoff of Crystal Lake, and Susan Kaplan of Eagle River, Alaska; three nephews, Jason Ugent of Crystal Lake, Goeffrey Ugent of Spring, Texas, and David Heling (Joanne) of Boise, Idaho. He is also survived by extended family and friends from all over the world.
He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Irving Ugent.
Services, officiated by Sam Goldman, will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, in Pleasant Grove Memorial Park on Old Illinois 13 between Carbondale and Murphysboro. At 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, there will be a memorial service lead by Douglas McEwen, with special music by Ed Benyas, at Con-gregation Beth Jacob at 904 N. Norwest, off Streigel Road in Carbondale. After the memorial, there will be visitation with the family and a meal.
Crain Pleasant Grove Murdale Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Memorials may be made to the charity of donor's choice.
To leave online condolences, visit www.crains online.com.