DR. R. R. STEWART (1890-1993)
S. I. ALI AND A. GHAFFAR
Obituary: Dr. Ralph Randles Stewart
died on 6th November, 1993 at the age of 103 years at Duarte, Calif., USA. May
God Almighty shower His blessings upon the departed soul and may his soul rest
in peace in heaven. Amen.
Dr. Ralph Randles Stewart was born on 15th April
1890 and grew up at Manhattan Island, New York city, USA. He obtained his Ph.D.
degree (1916) from Columbia University, New York; D.Sc. Honorary (1953) from the
University of the Punjab, Lahore and LLD Honorary (1963) from Alma College, Michigan,
On a call from the UP Church, India, Dr. Stewart joined the Gordon College,
Rawalpindi in 1911 to teach elementary Botany and Zoology to pre-medical students.
He served as Professor in Botany (1917-1960) and Principal Gordon College, Rawalpindi
(1934-1954). Since at that time the flora of India and Western Himalayas was not
well known, Dr. Stewart therefore embarked on collection trips, often going on
his pushbike, and went as far as the capital of Kashmir and then crossed into
Western Tibet on foot. He continued to collect plants every summer (1912-1959)
without any financial support from anyone. In 1960, when Dr. Stewart retired at
the age of 70 years, he gave his collection of over 50 thousand plant specimens,
now called the Stewart Collection, to Professor E. Nasir at Gordon College,
Rawalpindi. The Stewart Collection has now been deposited in the National
Herbarium of the Government of Pakistan at Islamabad thus leaving a very rich
heritage for the students of plant sciences. Dr. Stewart moved to USA and worked
as Research Associate (1960-1982) at the Herbarium of the Michigan University
with over 30,000 plant specimens collected from India, Kashmir, Iran etc.
Stewart is one of the few persons who has served Pakistan throughout his active
life. In recognition of his services to educational and botanical work, Dr. Stewart
was awarded Kaiser-e-Hind (Emperor of India) gold medal 1938, Sitara-e-Imtiaz
(Star of Distinction) 1961, Member American Association for Advancement of Sciences
1984, foreign member Pakistan Academy of Sciences 1983.
Dr. Stewart has remained
as the real stalwart of systematic botany in Pakistan having spent more than 50
years in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. Dr. Stewart has made comprehensive reports
on the Flora of N. W. Himalayas, Western Tibet, Kashmir, Kurram Valley, Flora
of Balochistan and Grasses of West Pakistan. Apart from collecting flowering plants,
Dr. Stewart also made a scientific contribution in the collection of mosses, plant
disease specimens like rusts, smuts and fleshy fungi which have since been published
in Mycologia by Dr. Arthur and Dr. Cummins of Purdue University. One of his most
important contributions "An Annotated Catalogue pf Vascular Plants of Pakistan
and Kashmir (1972)" serves as the basis of writing the Flora of Pakistan
edited by E. Nasir and S.I. Ali (1970-1988), S. I. Ali and Y. J. Nasir (1989-1991)
and S. I. Ali and M. Qaiser (1992-).
Dr. Stewart again came to Pakistan in
1990 to attend and make a presentation at he International symposium on Plant
life of South Asia. The symposium was organized at the Department of Botany, University
of Karachi, to commemorate the Centenary of Dr. Stewart. The participation of
Dr. Stewart at the symposium is indicative of his interest of plant sciences and
specially his love for Pakistan.
Dr. Stewart had two daughters Jean Macmillan
Stewart Andrews (1919-1970) born at sialkot and Ellen Reid Stewart Daniels (1921-)
born at Jhelum, 6 grand children and 6 great children. Besides, Dr. Stewart has
left behind a large number of Plant Taxonomist in different parts of the world
to mourn the loss.