Headline for Featured Item #1 Longtime University Herbarium Curator Ruth O’Brien Dies at Age 91 - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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Longtime University Herbarium Curator Ruth O’Brien Dies at Age 91

January 10, 2013

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Ruth Schott O’Brien, who started a herbarium of South Texas botanical specimens at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and served as its curator for nearly 30 years, died Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at Christus Spohn Hospital. She was 91.

O’Brien, who also donated generously to the University through time and money, was born Oct. 13, 1921, in Sioux City, Iowa. After receiving her bachelor's degree in Bacteriology from the University of Minnesota in 1945, O’Brien and her husband, Joseph, moved to Corpus Christi in 1949. Ruth later discovered her interest in wild plants and taxonomy, and earned a Master of Science in Biology in 1980 from Corpus Christi State University. A year later, the alumnus set up the University herbarium and became its curator in 1983.The Ruth O’Brien Herbarium, which houses more than 1,500 Coastal Bend plant specimens, is located in the Carlos F. Truan Natural Resources Center.

O’Brien, who answered plant questions from the public, was one of the authors of “Plants of Webb County” in 2002 and was co-author of recovery plans for two local endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Along with several others, O’Brien was presented with the Donovan Stewart Correll Memorial Award for scientific writing in the field of native flora in Texas for their book “Plants of the Coastal Bend.” Family members said that O’Brien always had a thirst for knowledge and the herbarium was very important in her life.

Through the years, the O’Briens donated monies to improve the herbarium and, in 2008, started the Joseph A. and Ruth S. O'Brien Endowed Herbarium Internship. The couple served on the President's Council for 18 years and in October 2009, was inducted into the Endowed Scholarship Council at the Blue Wave level.

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