Robert A. De Filipps was born in Chicago, Illinois, March 4, 1939, and resided on the city's northwest side, attending Haugan Elementary School and Carl Schurz High School. Advanced degrees were awarded in his professional field by the University of Illinois (B.S.), Southern Illinois University (M.S.), the University of Oklahoma (PhD). Mr. De Filipps died at age 65 on July 4, 2004.
During his lifetime, Mr. De Filipps was a professional taxonomist, first employed for several years by the University of Reading (England), and from 1974 until his death, by the Plant Conservation Unit, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
As a Museum Specialist, Robert De Filipps worked with the Endangered Flora Project (1974-1987), the Office of Biological Conservation (1978-1983), the Plant Conservation Unit (1983-1994, 2004), and the Floristics Office (1994-2003). His professional duties included: Editorial Assistant and Regional Advisor for Myanmar (Burma) as representative of the Smithsonian Editorial Center for the Flora of China Project; editor and database maintenance for the Revised Checklist of the Plants of Myanmar (Burma); preparation of taxonomic treatments of 46 families for Flora of the Guianas; co-editor for the Plant Press; and the preparation of books on medicinal (Brazil, the Guianas, Haiti, India, and Myanmar) and ornamental plants (Dominica and the Guianas).
His scientific specialty was Floristics, the study of the distribution and relationships of plant species in a particular area. During his lifetime, he had published 50 technical papers (including 6 books and 26 scientific papers) and described 14 species of flowering plants. His obituary appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday, August 1,2004, in which he was referred to as "an internationally renowned botanist at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History" in Washington, DC.
During his lifetime, in connection with his worldwide travels and interests, Robert A. De Filipps acquired several parcels or plots of land in various parts of the world, including the Commonwealth of Dominica. He grew, or attempted to grow as a matter of scientific interest, ornamental and other plants on these lots. These properties were cared for by local residents while the decisions concerning specific plantings were all coordinated by Robert De Filipps from Washington, D.C.
At the time of his death, the properties he owned in the Commonwealth of Dominica were donated to the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences. This organization has continued to use Mr. De Filipps' properties in connection with its ongoing activities and efforts in pursuing educational and social improvements in Dominica.
Mr. De Filipps' professional research library was donated, in part, to the Botany Department of the Smithsonian Institution, and in part to the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Willard J. De Filipps
July 24, 2007