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In Memoriam: Dr. John Richard ("Dick") Seed

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

By Dr. John Oaks

Long time ASP member, John Richard (“Dick”) Seed, Ph.D., former President of the Society (1992) and Henry Baldwin Award Medalist (1976), died on December 12, 2020 at 83 year of age. After serving as U.S. Army parasitologist, he became a faculty member in Tulane University’s Department of Biology, where he and former ASP members Dick Lumsden and Franklin Sogandares founded the Laboratory of Parasitology. His research laboratory focused upon Trypanosomiasis and the protozoan ability to evade the host’s immune system. The many students he influenced with his teaching went on to careers in leading educational institutions, academia, and major governmental scientific departments in the United States and all over the world. As the Laboratory of Parasitology dispersed, Dick moved first to Texas A&M University and then The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. In addition to ASP, he was a member of the Southwest Association of Parasitologists, Society of Immunology, Southeastern Society of Parasitologists, and attended the annual Fancy Gap meeting during his career.

Like every student in the Laboratory of Parasitology during the late 1960’s, I learned three things about research from Dr. Seed. Number one, there are situations that will make you very angry. Number two, it pays to be a pragmatist. One morning, Dick discovered that the -70C freezer in which he had, for years, been storing serum collected monthly (weekly?) from a colony of Trypanosome infected rabbits (to eventually examine trypanosome surface antigen changes) had been pulled, and the serums were ruined! A janitor had pulled the freezer plug for his electric floor scrubber, and sadly had not plugged in the freezer when he finished. After the explosion of surprise followed by anger from Dick, his pragmatism took over. The experiment was scrubbed and other research continued. Number three, check your equipment frequently. There was always a coffee pot full of hot and strong chicory-laced coffee on a table next to the -70C freezer, and from the day the serum was lost, all coffee drinkers checked the freezer plug as they filled their mugs.

After his retirement from UNC, Dick remained connected to ASP, writing a series of tongue-in-cheek letters to the Editor Jerry Esch concerning suggestions for a tranquil retirement for parasitologists, which were then published in this Newsletter. He also was a continuous supporter of the ASP Student Auction with donations of his uniquely carved wooden canes and duck decoys created in his garage and studio, and serving now and again as an auctioneer and assistant.


Editor's Note: Dr. Oaks was kind enough to dig out the old ASP Newsletters in which "The Dick and John Column" appeared. They're hilarious!

Their motto:

Our motto is “you are never too young to consider retirement.” We are only here to help you over those retirement hurdles. Write us if you have problems. The Dick and John Retirement Consults, Inc. are only here to serve you.

They included suggestions for what to do if you're an old parasitologist who has to decide what to do with filing cabinets full of reprints. Dick and John suggest, for example, shredding it, and "have the reprint fodder blown into the walls of your home. This way you can be warmed all year long by being surrounded by classic and important data!". Or, if you find yourself with binders full of paper and/or binder clips, Dick and John suggest making jewelry, and even included a photographed example, complete with cute pink star beads!

Here are the Newsletters which include the Dick and John Columns. Enjoy!

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