Donald Robert Whitehead (1938 - 1990)

Though he was not a member of the CIM and he maintained a low profile in myriapodology, it is proper to note the ultimely death of Don Whitehead, from cancer in May 1990, because of the importance of his field collecting and the loftiness of his mental inquiries, which greatly influenced my thinking about millipede evolution and relationships of the Xystodesmidae. He his best known for coauthoring the second revision of Sigmoria with me (1986, Mem. Amer. Entomol. Soc., No. 35), but his contributions to myriapodology far exceed this one authorship credit. Don was born in Orange, New Jersey, in 1938, and received his bachelor's degree at Rutgers Univ. in 1960, during which time he made extensive myriapod collections in the northeastern United States. After a 2 yr. stint in the Army Medical Corps, Don entered graduate school at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, where he studied carabid beetles, which resulted in a comprehensive collection of Mexican myriapods that have been cited in several publications. After receiving his Ph. D. in 1971, Don moved to the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (NMNH), Washington DC, as a Research Entomologist for the Organization for Tropical Studies, which enabled him to travel to Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala, where he also collected myriapods. In 1976, Don joined the Systematic Entomology Lab., US Department of Agriculture, as its weevil specialist, but much of his spare time was spent on millipeds. In 1985 he began an investigation of Mullerian mimicry among Appalachian Xystodesmids. Anyone viewing the myriapod holdings at the NMNH will encounter many samples taken by D. R. Whitehead. Don's contributions have been recognized with two milliped patronyms: Typhlobollelus whiteheadi Hoffman (Spirobolida: Typhlobollelidae) and Sigmoria (Sigiria) whiteheadi Shelley (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae), and the latinized chilopod patronym, Geoalbus caputalbus Crabill (Geophilomorpha: Himanthariidae).

Don was always available for counsel and commentary on manuscripts, materially improving many of mine. He was a dedicated, unassuming intellectual, a philatelist specializing in Mexican stamps and postmarks, and avid field collector of millipeds, centipeds, and beetles, and above all, a true colleague and personal friend. In a profession, science, where many workers try to outdo others and compete fiercely over authorships and funds, Don was generous and giving, typically refusing credit for ideas and insights that where rightfully his. Don Whitehead personified the words of John Milton, "They also serve who only stand and wait."

Rowland M. Shelley, April 1991
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