WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
DR. WALTER PACE COTTAM
(ecologist, professor of botany)
BIOGRAPHYWalter Pace Cottam was born in St. George on March 3, 1894. He grew up there working on his father's farm and helping with the cattle. He spent a lot of time on and around the Pine Valley Mountain as a young boy and later working for the Forest Service.
Walter went through the local schools and was in the first graduating class of the St. George Stake Academy in 1913.
Walter married Effie Frei on July 1, 1915. She was also in the same class but six years his senior. They had three sons and two daughters. Effie died in 1964 and is buried in Plot U_407_10 of the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.
He went on to graduate from BYU with a A.B. degree in 1916 and and M.A. degree in 1918. He was the one of the first two people to receive a master's degree from BYU. He taught at Jordan High School for the 1918-1919 school year but decided to pursue an advanced degree in Wisconsin. However, he got sidetracked to the University of Chicago and received his Ph.D from there in 1926.
Walter went back to BYU and stayed there for the next 12 years.
In 1931, he transferred to the University of Utah and taught there for the next 31 years and, after retiring in 1962, spent many years there working on his hybridized Oak project.
Some of Walter's accomplishments and awards included: Planted a number of Sequoia trees on both sides of Pine Valley Mountain in the 1930s. Co-founder of The Nature Conservancy. Chairman of the Botany Department at the University of Utah. His collections became the State Arboretum and led to the Red Butte Garden with the Walter P. Cottam Visitor Center.
Walter died on December 22, 1988 in Gresham, Multnomah County, Oregon of Alzheimer's disease. He is buried in Plot U_407_10 of the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.
REFERENCESWalter P. Cottam and the Sequoia Tree
by Heber Jones, December 2016
Why Hurry Through Heaven: A Biography-Memoir of Dr. Walter P. Cottam
Book by Maxine Martz, June 1999
Is Utah Sahara Bound?
by Dr. Walter P. Cottam, Professor of Botany, University of Utah
Lecture delivered at the University of Utah on February 19, 1947
Markers and Monuments Database: Dr. Walter P. Cottam
Utah State Division of History
Walter P. Cottam, Eminent Ecologist
Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, Volume 41, Number 4 (December 1960), pp. 105-107
Walter P. Cottam, 94, Ecologist, Professor Emeritus at U. Dies
Article in the Deseret News, December 24, 1988
Find-A-Grave entry for Walter Pace Cottam
Find-A-Grave entry for Effie Frei Cottam