Obituary: Helmut Gottwald
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Helmut Gottwald was a well-known wood scientist in Germany and achieved an international reputation through his comprehensive publications and study visits to subtropical and tropical countries. Along with various short-term missions, he visited for longer periods Myanmar, Thailand, Zaire, Papua New Guinea and the Amazon region of Bolivia and Brazil. He joined the International Association of Wood Anatomists (IAWA) in 1963 and served as member on the Committee which produced the IAWA list of Microscopic Features for Hardwood Identification, published in 1987.
For more than 25 years, Helmut Gottwald served as an inspiring lecturer at the University of Hamburg, introducing many generations of Wood Science and Technology students to the art of macroscopic wood identification and wood quality assessment, taking much pride in the ‘high grades’ he was awarded by his students. He also took responsibility in supervising M.Sc. and Ph.D. wood science students with great success. In 1958, he published his book on commercial timbers, a standard textbook which sold out completely within 1 year of publication. The book is still heavily used by wood science students and the wood industry and trade community.
The Academy elected Helmut Gottwald as Fellow in 1983, the year in which he retired from his duties at the Hamburg Research Centre, and which was also the starting point for his second career as a paleobotanist dedicating most of his time to the study of fossil woods. This work resulted in the publication of more than 20 highly regarded papers and made him one of the foremost scientists in this field.
Helmut Gottwald was a stimulating and loyal colleague who always shared his knowledge and vast experience with all who wanted to learn from him. The international wood science community has lost one of its prominent members and we have lost a good friend.