We called Rutgers professor William Meyer, Ph.D., recently about the passing of his colleague and mentor, Dr. Reed Funk. Meyer returned the call a couple days after Hurricane Sandy hit, so he had a lot to say about that, as well as ample praise for Funk.
"Everything I learned about breeding I learned from him—and from doing it," Meyer said. "He worked on me for five years to get me to apply for a job at Rutgers. I cooperated with him from there."
Meyer sent us one of his favorite photos of Funk, this one of him collecting centipede grasses in a cemetery in Cherry Hill, N.J. in 1996.
To honor Funk's life and legacy, Meyer said, Rutgers is holding a memorial symposium for Funk on Jan. 11. "It's an all-day affair," Meyer said, "and everything is oriented toward him." Funk's former students will present at the symposium, including Chris Carson, Al Turgeon, David Kopek and others.
But the conversation also turned to Hurricane Sandy, which had hit New Jersey two days before we spoke with Meyer, who lives just six miles from the ocean. He described the storm this way:
"It just blew and blew and blew. It was blowing at 90 miles an hour, and the sound of that is amazing. It’s like a train blowing through. I’m telling you, I was scared. It was blowing that hard. It was amazing.
"No trees snapped off but there are a thousand tree limbs in our yard. It was amazing. I just can’t tell you how frightening it was. And then, of course, everybody in New Jersey along the coast, those poor people. They got so much damage. Their houses are gone. They lost everything.
"I’m six miles up the hill from the ocean. Down the hill, all the boats ended up on the parking lot. Being up on the hill, that made the wind even worse. It was crazy. You know, the weirdest thing now is you can't t buy gas. The lines are 300 cars long. I got two-thirds of a tank of gas left in my car. I’m hoping things calm down soon."