Robert Lichtwardt

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  • "Betty, I was very sorry to hear that Bob had passed, he was..."
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Service Information
Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home & Crematory
601 Indiana St
Lawrence, KS

A Memorial for Robert W. Lichtwardt will be at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 17th, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Fellowship Hall at 1263 N 1100 Rd, Lawrence. His ashes are interred in the Pioneer Cemetery on the University of Kansas campus.

Dr. Lichtwardt died Friday February 9th at home, surrounded by his family.

He was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1924, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the fourth of six children of Henry H. and Ruth M. Lichtwardt. He held dual U.S. and Brazilian citizenship. He graduated from the American School in Rio de Janeiro in 1941. During World War II, he was 4F due to his eyesight and instead served the Naval Operating Base for the South Atlantic Fleet as a civilian employee through the U.S. Embassy in Brazil.

In 1945 he moved to the U.S. to attend Oberlin College from which he graduated with a BA in 1949. He received his Master of Science in 1951, and his Ph.D. in 1954 in Botany with an emphasis in Mycology from the University of Illinois. After conducting field work through a post-doctoral fellowship, and a post-doctoral position at the University of Iowa, in 1957 he became an assistant professor at the University of Kansas and moved to Lawrence. He became full professor in 1965 and was twice chair of the Department of Botany. He retired from teaching in 1995 but continued his research projects and mentoring graduate students as Professor Emeritus for another 20 years.

He held membership and offices in numerous national and international professional societies, and authored or co-authored over 130 publications. He traveled widely, conducting field research in 15 countries and multiple U.S. states. He had a wide variety of interests including hiking, camping, brewing beer, composing haiku, and playing the harmonica and the recorder. He was a Boy Scout and Boy Scout leader in Brazil, and played with an all-harmonica band on Brazilian national radio. He was a founding member and first chair of the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence and a member of the Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters.

He met his future wife Elizabeth (Betty) Thomas at Oberlin, and they married in 1951. She survives of the home.

Other survivors include two children, Ruth, Lawrence, Kansas, and Robert, Farmington, New Mexico; a brother, John, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Ouida and Marian, and brothers Harry and Edwin.

The family suggests memorials to the Robert W. Lichtwardt Student Research Award, or the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lawrence, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home.

Condolences may be sent at

Published in Lawrence Journal-World from Feb. 11 to Feb. 25, 2018
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