Today@Sam Article

Celebration To Honor Alumnus, Entomologist

March 21, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Tammy Parrett

Sam Houston State University will honor one of Texas’s greatest entomologists, Horace Burke, who recently donated his library of nearly 4,000 natural history books to the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies, on April 1 at 4 p.m. at the SHSU Natural History Collection Museum. 

Burke graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from SHSU in 1953 after returning from World War II, where he served as glider corps infantry in Germany. While at SHSU he was inspired to pursue a career in entomology by the late professor of biology Frank Cowan.

After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in entomology from Texas A&M University, Burke continued to work within the Texas A&M University System until he retired in 1989 after 35 years as an entomology professor.

Several of the books in the Burke library have been inscribed to Burke, including “Texas Snakes” by James Dickson, which reads “To Horace, my favorite entomologist and fellow graduate student of the 1950s.”

“It’s amazing to see the variety of books he has in his collection,” said John Pascarella, dean of the College of Sciences. “It’s all part of natural history exploration; it’s how we explored and discovered natural history through expeditions and trips.”

While going through the collection, Natural History Collections curator William Godwin discovered Burke’s copy of “The Legumes of Texas” and a number of other books written by B.L. Turner, and he reached out to the 91-year-old Austin native to ask a favor.

“I called him and told him that I had all of his books in this collection and asked him if he’d be willing to sign them to Horace if I brought them out to him,” Godwin said. “They’re two of the longest-serving biologists in Texas, so he happily signed them for Horace, who will turn 90 on April 1.”

Similar to the Thomason Room in the Newton-Gresham Library, students will be able to visit the library and read the books in the collection; however they will not be able to check them out, according to Godwin.

The Natural History Collection Museum is located at 2405 Avenue I, on the northeast corner of the intersection with Sam Houston Avenue.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Godwin at 936.294.4493.

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