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Carl D. LaRue
LSA Minutes

Memorial to Carl Downey LaRue

Carl Downey LaRue died on August 19, 1955, at Ann Arbor. He was bora at Williamsville, Illinois, April 22, 1888, the son of Abraham and Charlotte (Bates) LaRue. After attending Valparaiso University he entered Michigan and graduated A.B. in 1914. After the degree A.M. in 1916, at Michigan, he became Instructor at Syracuse University.

His work for the doctorate, started in the field of Oenothera genetics, necessarily took a new direction in 1917 when he went to Sumatra as botanist for the United States Rubber Company. This initiated two lines of research in which LaRue gained distinction, namely, the agronomy of Hevea (Brazilian rubber) and experimental morphology.

The laboratory routine in Sumatra required culturing fungi infesting Hevea. Numerous strains of the fungus Pestalozzia afforded the subject of his doctoral dissertation, for which he was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1921.

An achievement of tremendous economic importance was the development of patch-budding of Hevea. LaRuets pioneer success quickly resulted in high-yielding individual being rapidly multiplied, and the entire plantation rubber industry was transformed.

From observing thousands of test-tube cultures of sterilized plant cuttings made at first for isolating parasitic fungi but later for determining the conditions under which the growing tissues of stems would best proliferate, LaRue got the incentive for studying morphogenesis by culturing tissues and embryos in vitro, experimentation which absorbed his attention in later years. It was actually isolation of pathogenic fungi that led him into experimental morphology. Fragments of higher plants, kept alive for months, showed growth phenomena that excited his curiosity and led to highly successful later researches.

LaRue became an Assistant Professor in 1923, Associate Professor in 1934, and Professor in 1944. He spent a sabbatical year, 1936-37, in research at Harvard. His spectacular success in Sumatra led to assignments for investi¬gation of rubber plants in Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Mexico. His last tropical work was carried out in Puerto Rico in 1951, and there he had an illness that seemed to his friends to be a premonition of the stroke which caused his death.

LaRue was married in 1914 to Evelina Brown Forman of Baltimore. She and their sons and daughters survive him. During student days he was strongly influenced by the late botanist, Dr. Adrian John Pieters, and for him the LaRues named their eldest son, born in Sumatra, who is now Chairman of the Lepartment of Music at Wellesley College. The daughters, Virginia and Charlotte, are Mrs. Harvey Gross of Kew Gardens, New York, and Mrs. Harold Rausch, of Ann Arbor. The younger son, Carl Forman, is now a law student at Michigan. To LaRue's family and to his devoted friends the Faculty extends its deep sympathy. It laments his death before he had the satisfaction of completing his latest experiments or of enjoying a few years of well-earned leisure.

His life was a fruitful one in teaching and research, and in the cultivation of strong friendships and social responsibilities.

H. H. Bartlett
M. W. Senstius
K. L. Jones, Chairman