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Norman R. Farnsworth, Renowned Medicinal Plant Researcher, Dies at 81
Date:9/12/2011

his cigars in his mouth, even after being admonished by waiters who told him that smoking was not permitted. Farnsworth would point out the obvious fact that he was not smoking, that the cigar was not lit, and would continue to keep the cigar in his mouth, seeming to relish the opportunity to keep walking up to the line, but not exceeding it.

He was highly-respected and admired in life and now remembered fondly by his former students, mentees, and friends. Often seen as brash and outspoken, frequently critical of other scientists and institutions which to him were guilty of producing less than acceptable work or policies, Norm Farnsworth pushed his students and all those around him to strive to the highest degree of academic and professional excellence. And underneath the brash veneer, was a man who was seen by his colleagues and students as extraordinarily generous with his time and his personal funds.

His long-time friend and colleague of 56 years, UIC Professor (ret.) Harry H.S. Fong, Ph.D., once said, "Everyone who has come into contact with Norman Farnsworth has a 'Farnsworth story' or two to tell." Professor Fong recalled that Farnsworth, who was still working until shortly before his illness, recently noted that Fong, his former graduate student, had retired, as an example of how long Prof. Farnsworth had hoped to be able to continue his never-ending work in medicinal plant research.

Another phrase used to describe Dr. Farnsworth is the "quintessential renaissance man," as he was so-called in an editorial in the ASP's Journal of Natural Products by Farnsworth's colleagues Prof. Fong, Geoffrey A. Cordell, Ph.D., and A. Douglas Kinghorn, Ph.D., JNP's editor-in-chief: "To fully depict Farnsworth, one needs to write a book," said Dr. Fong.

Dr. Fong shared several anecdotes about Dr. Farnsworth. One story involved Dr. Farnsworth's propensity for cigars. "On every lab bench and in every office that Norm has spent any length of time
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SOURCE American Botanical Council
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