Frank Alexander Lang
May 14, 1937 – June 26, 2019
Frank was born in Olympia, Washington, and died peacefully of natural causes. He spent his childhood roaming the woods and fields of Olympia and the shores of Puget Sound. These experiences would inform his entire life and career.
Frank attended Oregon State University and graduated with a B.S. in Botany.That year, he married his wife, Suzanne. They moved to Seattle, where he completed his master’s degree at the University of Washington. While working on his PhD in Vancouver, BC their son Thomas was born. After brief appointments in Seattle and at Whitman College in Walla Walla, the young family moved to Ashland. There, he began teaching in the Biology Department atthe then-called Southern Oregon College. He taught for over 30 years. Daughter Amy was born shortly after moving to Ashland. Frank was active in academic life, becoming department chair (more than once), working on various committees, and sitting on the Faculty Senate for many years.Summers, he led study trips to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Franktook several sabbaticals during his tenure at Southern going to Dallas, TX to work on medical illustration, and to Boston, MA, where
he worked at Harvard’s Gray Herbarium. He also travelled to England and Scotland to research the 19th century Scottish botanist David Douglas, for whom the fir tree is named.
Frank was active in the Native Plant Society of Oregon, the Crater Lake Natural History Association, and the Jefferson Center. He contributed several articles to the Oregon Encyclopedia. After he retired from teaching, he worked for the Medford District of the BLM, concentrating on the Ashland Resource Area. One of his passions was the Cascade/Siskiyou Ecological Emphasis Area, which was later declared a National Monument by President Bill Clinton. He explored Argentina and Tasmania. Frank and Suzanne twice traveled to Japan as part of an exchange with Japanese Botanists.
He played soccer, and was an avid mountain biker and fly fisher. He was also an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church. He enjoyed annual fall trips with his wife and friends, touring our many western National Parks.
Frank may best be known locally for his weekly radio pieces, “Nature Notes,” heard on Jefferson Public Radio. With his signature wit and humor, he commented on topics related to the flora and fauna of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Many of these pieces are in his books, A Nature Notes Sampler Vols. 1 & 2.
In his role as teacher and advocate for the natural world, Frank touched many lives. He will be remembered for his dry wit, irreverent sense of humor, and terrible puns. A friend, in describing Frank’s bond with his students, put it this way: “It was not showy, or demonstrative, it was merely intense and sustained, as it was with his friends.” Those who knew him felt this bond.
Frank is survived by his wife Suzanne, son Thomas Lang (Shawn Barrett), daughter Amy Lang (Kerry Knestis), grandson Milo Knestis, and older sister Mary Lou York.
The memorial service and Committal to Sacred Ground will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, July 27th at Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 N 2nd Street, Ashland. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Native Plant Society of Oregon or Trinity Episcopal Church.