In Memoriam: Robert Guillard


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of former employee Robert Guillard on September 25, 2016, at the Gregory Wing, St. Andrew’s Village in Boothbay Harbor, ME. He was 95.

Bob was born Robert Louis Russell in New York City, February 5, 1921. His mother was Suzanne DeMoura, of Stonington, CT.  His father, Robert L. Russell, was a pilot who flew with the Air Corps in World War I. They were divorced shortly after Bob was born. When Bob was four, his mother married Francois Guillard, a fine jeweler of French lineage. Bob spent summers in Stonington with his maternal grandparents and winters in New York. He was educated at Townsend-Harris High, then continued on to City College of New York where he was co-captain of the fencing team. He obtained his B.S. degree in Physics in 1941. In the meantime, World War II had begun. Bob was deferred from the draft after college because he held a vital position as an engineer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, outfitting ships against mines, saving the lives of American service men and women.

After the war, and a young marriage that did not last, Bob got his Ph.D. at Yale University and began his career as an oceanographer, his expertise being in the study of phytoplankton. He remarried and went to Hawaii to do sampling and research, then accepted a position at WHOI in 1958 in the Biology Department as a research associate.  In 1963, he was promoted to associate scientist and in 1973 to senior scientist. He left in 1981.  During his time at WHOI, he went on many research cruises to bring back samples of algae, though quite unwillingly—he was prone to seasickness.

Over the years, Bob developed a love of English Country Dancing, including the Morris, an ancient ritual dance. Bob was one of the finest Morris dancers in the U.S. He also had an enduring interest in target shooting and was a member of local rifle clubs. He was a great supporter of wildlife and environmental preservation.

Following a divorce, Bob married the former Ruth Fredericks, a musician, in 1962, and took on the lifelong role of stepdad to her three little boys from her previous marriage. The boys grew up on Cape Cod with Bob as their “scoutmaster,” teaching them woodsmanship, swimming, and the proper use of tools.

In 1981, Bob was offered a position at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, so the whole family moved to an old farmhouse in Boothbay, ME. Bob had been asked by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to amass a national collection of algae and other microscopic marine organisms, growing the different strains and making them available for use by other laboratories. The Provasoli –Guillard Collection at Bigelow Laboratory was named in honor of Bob and his colleague.

Bob is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ruth; three stepsons, David, Mark, and John Stimson; daughters-in-law Sandy Stimson and Tamora Goltz; five step-grandchildren, and many cousins.

Hall’s Funeral Home of Boothbay, ME, had care of the arrangements.

Some of the information for this obituary is from the Hall Funeral Home.



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