Lewis Feldman, Garden Director

Former Garden Director Watson “Mac” Laetsch died in the early morning of January 5th. He was 86 and had accomplished much during his nearly 30 years at Berkeley, including serving as Botanical Garden Director from 1969-1973. As Mara Melandry notes in her book, The History of the University of California Botanical Garden 1970-2010, “Laetsch had a major role in keeping the Garden open. In the late 1960s the University wanted to close it because it (the Garden) wasn’t contributing enough to the University’s academic mission. Laetsch’s actions averted Garden closure by (his) suggesting that the Garden become a public resource,” a plan which the University encouraged and supported. Today, the many educational programs the Garden now sponsors are directly attributable to Laetsch’s vision.

During his tenure as Director, and later in his many other administrative roles, Laetsch was known for his sage advice and for helping many young colleagues to advance their careers.

Read Laetsch’s full obituary at nature.berkeley.edu.

© 2022 UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley