The Geoff Burleigh Legacy

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Geoff Burleigh, a chapter member for many decades, died February 2006.  Born in Taunton, Somerset, England, he moved with his family to Pasadena in 1927.  He was a resident of the San Fernando Valley since 1933, and worked for Pacific Telephone for 41 years. He was preceded in death by Mary, his wife of 71 years, who attended most CNPS events with Geoff.

Geoff with cameraNotebook pageGeoff was a persistent and diligent photographer and field trip leader for CNPS. His main “focus” was the genus Calochortus, and he planned and led chapter field trips to areas where his favorite monocot could be found. He left his slide collection to our chapter, but it is more than just a bunch of images.

In multiple notebooks Geoff documented where every slide was photographed, and he identified each slide to genus and/or species. In addition, Geoff made special lists for his slide shows of particular areas or particular groups of plants.

Geoff was way ahead of his time: he developed his own mechanical slide show system that employed two projectors and special electronics that allowed the slides to fade into each other! His collection of Calochortus slides is a wonderful asset, and our chapter is in the process  of scanning all the slides to make them available through our website. In addition to his slide collection, Geoff donated his library of over 50 plant books and two beautifully framed CNPS posters in hardwood frames that he made (turns out Geoff was an excellent wood worker).Geoff with projectors

Linda Hardie, chapter president during the 1980’s remembers: “He certainly was a very special person. I enjoyed going with him to photograph wildflowers on many occasions and I especially remember finding the Lewisia rediviva (bitterroot) with him. I wasn’t on the field trip that he was leading in the Southern Sierra, but he loved telling this story.

Geoff said he was leading a caravan of cars on a field trip on a back country road when he heard a siren and a deputy sheriff ordering him to pull over. The deputy yelled at him, ‘Why didn’t you pull over and let all those cars go around you?’ When Geoff explained that he was leading a field trip, the deputy quieted down. Geoff had a good laugh about it later.”