Friday, 26 February 2021

Vale Pierre

Recently I learnt that a fellow member of the botanical and mycology club died of Covid19 in December, aged 90. He was a quiet, modest, kind man, who never pushed himself forward into the limelight. I liked him but had no idea what an amazing person he was until I read his obituary. He'd had a stroke and was in an aged care home in Saint Branch, so I hadn't seen him for a while, quite apart from Covid19.


Inside the City of Tours greenhouses, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Pierre in 2013, at the City of Tours greenhouses, where he had organised an outing for the Association de Botanique et Mycologie de Sainte Maure de Touraine.

Abandoned at birth he became a ward of the State and was placed with two successive foster families in Pont de Ruan. He left school at thirteen and a half, like most of the children in State care at the time. His first job was on a farm, then he went to work on a market garden. After that he landed a job at the famous Chateau of Villandry where he spent several years maintaining their magnificent gardens. This on the job training meant that he was recruted in 1953 by the City of Tours to work in the Botanical Gardens, which were part of the Tours School of Medicine and Pharmacy. When the School became a national university in 1963 he stayed in the post.

Tours Botanical Gardens and General Hospital, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Tours Botanical Gardens with the General Hospital beyond.

Working in all parts of the Botanical Gardens he acquired a solid knowledge of the flora, which allowed him to guide pharmacy students in their botanising, at first in the Touraine, and later in the Alpes grenobloises. He developed a similar passion for mycology and took an active part in the preparations for fungi displays. Working in close collaboration with the successive Medicine and Pharmacy Faculty professors he participated in a number of important projects: re-labelling the species in the Botanical Gardens; editing a catalogue of seed exchanges; creation of a medicinal plants garden; remodelling the Evolution Gardens systematic collections.

Pharmacy Faculty, University of Tours, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Pharmacy faculty at Tours University.

In his daily work, with kindness and competence, he commented on this or that plant species, passing on information to scholars, students and ordinary members of the public who were lucky enough to be walking through the garden.

Apprentice gardener, Villandry, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A young gardener at Villandry, like Pierre would have been.


Self-taught, having climbed the ladder, he ended his career with the title of Assistant Engineer and received a nomination for an Order of National Merit. When he retired the pharmacy professor at the time said 'Always very helpful, much appreciated by his colleagues, he contributed to the training of hundreds of students and pharmacists who will never forget him'.

He is survived by his son and daughter. His wife died in 2003.

[I've based this post on an obituary written by Marcel Bailly.]


Colin and Elizabeth said...

A great deal of knowledge lost... at least he had the opportunity to pass some of it on. Interesting life.

Jean said...

A success story and one of those people who benefited the human race by his achievements. 90 is a good age and to have lived a full and interesting life is what we all would wish for.
I think we once went to a brocante/open day at the care home in St Branchs. We might have seen him there, who knows.

Ricks Carson, Atlanta said...

In 1971-2 when I lived in the Chayeau du Lion as it was being renovated, I did a lot of work in the :Lady Garden," which was overgrown, with Andre Riolland. He was already an old man and living in the retirement home downtown, but we had a good friendship based on a common love of gardens. Today's post is a wonderful tribute
to Piere and, in my mind, to Andre. Thank you!

GaynorB said...

Lovely that you have used your post today to pay tribute to a special person.

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