Harold Frederick Loomis (1896 - 1976)

H. F. Loomis, the well-known specialist on millipeds of the West-Indies and Central America, died in Miami, Florida, on July 5, 1976, of cardiac complications, at the age of 79.

Born in Mertensia, New York, on December 23, 1896, he was exposed to Diplopoda early in his life : his uncle G. N. Collins was an early collaborator with O. F. Cook, and Loomis came under the influence of Cook when he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1914. Several of his early papers were co-authored with Cook, and a similarity in philosophy and technique between the two men was evident in Loomis' writings.

Although a botanist and horticulturist by profession, the taxonomy of millipeds occupied his leisure time for many years, and either alone or in company with Cook he was able to collect material in China, Western United States, the West Indies, and Central America. He was an expert photographer and elegant enlarged photographs illustrated some of his earlier papers. After eight years od residence in Arizona during the 1920's, Loomis was transferred to the U.S. Plant Introduction Station in Miami, where he was thenforced permanently stationed. During the last 13 years of his professional career he was director of this facility, and after retirement in 1858, he maintained a small-office laboratory there where his milliped work was conducted.

Expect for two taxonomic studies (on American callipodoid and cambaloid millipeds)Loomis' papers were basically faunistic in approach. His major work are complete surveys of the millipeds of Hispaniola and of Panama, and a checklist of the millipeds of Central America, all three indispensable basic references for these regions. Loomis described new milliped taxa in 51 papers, publishing a total of nine new families, 129 new genera, and 525 new species (some in collaboration with other authors).

Our personal friendship extended back to 1946 (R.L.H.), and throughout this period of three decades he remained always a most gracious and helpful colleague. With his passing, systematic Diplopodology suffers a grivous loss, and no one stands ready to take his place.

N. B. Causey and R. L. Hoffman, March 1977

Harold F. (Loo) Loomis died 5 July 1976 in South Miami Hospital. Born in Mertensia, New York on 23 December 1896, he joined the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1914, where he served actively until his retirement in 1958. He continued this association informally until shortly before his death, using an office that had been put at his disposal at Chapman Field, Miami, Florida.

Loo worked on genetic improvement of corn and cotton and phytopathology of the latter, and he conducted agronomic studies of tropical crop plants, especially rubber, coffee, cacao, and miscellaneous medicinal plants, publishing 50 papers on these subjects. He lived 8 years in Arizona, where he and his wife, Edith (Sis), whom he married in 1922, collected millipeds on dozens of camping trips into the mountains. In 1919 Loo went to China with 0. F. Cook as the photographer on a cotton expedition looking for long staple varieties. They made an enormous loop up through China all the way to Peking, partly by river and partly overland, collecting millipeds when time allowed. Loo and Sis continued to collect millipeds for the rest of his life, visiting Mexico, several Central American countries, several Bahama Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominica, Antigua, St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, Trinidad, Guyana, and Surinam. In 1932 he accompanied Dr. G. B. Fairchild on the Armour expedition of 3 months, during which they visited more than 30 islands of the Antilles.

Loo and Sis moved to Miami in 1931 where Loo was associated with the U. S. Plant Introduction Garden at Chapman Field as a Research Agronomist. He served as director from 1945 to 1958. Before and during World War II he was concerned with production of natural rubber. His other interests ranged from palms and orchids to beetles and millipeds, on which he became an acknowledged authority. His specialty was West Indian and Central American millipeds. He published 64 scientific papers on arthropods, including 50 papers on millipeds in which new taxa were described; 2 of these were coauthored with 0. F. Cook and 2 with R. L. Hoffman, 1 with D. Davenport, and 1 with R. L. Schmitt. An additional publication on 2 common millipeds in Florida was coauthored with H. V. Weems, Jr. He described 521 new species, 127 new genera, 2 new subfamilies, and 9 new families (3 of these coauthored). He was a collaborator with the (U. S.) National Museum of Natural History for many years and was an Honorary Fellow (Entomology) of the Smithsonian Institution. He was an active Research Associate of the Florida State Collection of Arthropods from 1967 until the time of his death, publishing regularly in The Florida Entomologist. Al-most all of the type specimens of the species which he described were deposited in the National Museum of Natural History and the Florida State Collection of Arthropods. Mr. Loomis was also a charter member of the Fairchild Tropical Garden, serving for many years on the Executive Committee of its Board of Directors, a member of the South Florida Orchid Society, the Palm Society, The Florida Entomological Society, and the Biological Society of Washington. He is survived by his wife, his son, James C., of San Antonio, Texas, and daughter, Mrs. Margery Krome, of Norfolk, Virginia. Loo will be remembered by his many friends as a kindly and gracious man, ever eager to share what he had with others.

Howard V. Weems, Jr.
Div. of Plant Industry, Fla. Dep. of Agr. and Consumer Services

Source: The Florida Entomologist, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Mar., 1977), p. 26
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