Hugh Edward Wilcox, 96, died at his home in the Mountain Meadows Community of Ashland, Ore., surrounded by his family. He was born near Manchester, Calif., the son of Leroy Fremont and Lulu Abbie (Gaspar) Wilcox. Most of his childhood was spent in Healdsburg, Calif. where he attended high school. He attended Santa Rosa Junior College; University of California-Berkeley (BS, Forestry, 1938); New York State College of Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y. (MS, Wood Technology, 1940); and UC-Davis (PhD, Plant Physiology, 1950). After a brief start in his career, WWII intervened. He spent several years as a research physicist on the Manhattan Project, and later at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Station in Inyokern, Calif. Following the war he did research at Oregon State University in Corvallis before moving to Syracuse, N.Y., where he spent more than 35 years as a professor of plant physiology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He was highly regarded in the U.S. and internationally for his research on root development and mycorrhizae. A new genus of mycorrhiza discovered by Hugh was later named Wilcoxina in his honor. After a year spent in Israel as a Fulbright Lecturer, he was proud to be invited back to identify the cause of the pine die-off.
Hugh married the love of his life, Elizabeth (Betty) Bufford, August 21, 1938, in Santa Rosa, Calif. They had 71 wonderful years together. Their honeymoon was spent driving a very long, scenic route across the country to Syracuse, N.Y. They slept under a blanket stretched out from the side of the car with ropes, or in the car if it was raining. It was the first time either had been out of the state of California! There followed many more lengthy car trips from Syracuse to northern California and back with their five children, camping en route and visiting as many national parks and natural areas as possible. They always loved canoeing, camping and hiking, and shared these experiences with their children and then grandchildren. They backpacked in the Grand Canyon and the Sierras, on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails, and in the Alps. They canoed and kayaked in Canada, the Adirondacks, the Boundary Waters, and the Inland Passage of Alaska. In later years they took kayaking, hiking, or walking trips in China, Australia, New Zealand, Belize, and Hawaii. Hugh was an avid photographer and artist. He spent many happy hours sketching and painting, often from photos he had taken on his many trips. He and Betty gardened with a passion. They had a wonderful acre-large garden in Syracuse which drew many awed visitors.
Hugh was predeceased by his wife Betty and his sister Maxine Carter. He is survived by his brothers, Maurice, Roger, and Richard Wilcox; children, Irene (Frank) Barmore, La Crosse Wis., Janet (Paul) Ievins, Medford, Ore., Kenneth (Karen Jacques), Sacramento, Calif., Luna (Joe) Bitzer, Ashland, Ore., and Carol Wilcox (Todd Folsom), Cary, N.C.; grandchildren, Nathaniel and Christopher Barmore, Erik and Lydia Ievins, Hugh and Ethan Bitzer, and Katrina and Craig Folsom; and his great-grandchild, Annabelle Barmore.