Dwain W. Warner, Elective Member, was born near Revere, Minnesota, on 1 September 1917, grew up in Northfield, Minnesota, and died 30 September 2005. He graduated from Carleton College in 1939, with a major in botany and a minor in zoology. In the fall of 1939, he began work on a Ph.D. at Cornell University. In 1941 he was a key member of an expedition to northeastern Mexico led by George M. Sutton and Olin S. Pettingill, Jr., which started his lifelong dedication to the ornithology of Mexico. He began his dissertation research on the birds of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas under Arthur A. Allen at Cornell, but this work was interrupted by World War II. Dwain spent nearly three years in the U.S. Army, primarily in the South Pacific on the islands of New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, and New Zealand. He returned to Cornell University in March 1946 and, based on his field experiences during the war, completed his dissertation in August 1947 on The Ornithology of New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.
Dwain began a 40-year career as a faculty member and Curator of Ornithology at the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Museum of Natural History (later the James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History). Teaching loads were higher then, and he could do field work only in the summers, when he usually traveled to Mexico. He taught the summer ornithology class at the Lake Itasca Field Biology Station for many years. In addition to his research and teaching, Dwain consulted for government and private agencies on biological diversity, landfill, and other environmental issues. He served on the board of trustees for the Science Museum of Minnesota and was environmental director at the Belwin Outdoor Education Laboratory (1983–1989). Following retirement in 1987, his unbounded energies took him into new areas, such as safari leader on numerous trips to Kenya.
Dwain was remarkably insightful, enthusiastic, and inspirational. He had vision, and he did not think small. With a gift for relating to people and instilling his enthusiasm for the natural world, Dwain had a widespread and lasting influence on students. Some of those who received advanced degrees under his supervision include Byron Harrell, Robert Dickerman, Vincent Heig, Judith McIntyre, John Rappole, Mario Ramos, Bonita Eliason, and me. Dwain considered anyone an appropriate audience and a potential student. His students and friends will long remember “Warnerisms,” phrases such as “Never be a baby bird,” and “Be there when it's daylight in the swamps.” A gifted hunter and collector, Dwain kept meat on the table and birds flowing into the museum collection, which grew by nearly 28,000 specimens during his tenure as curator.
Scientifically, Dwain did pioneering work with lasting influence in four areas: Mexican ornithology, radiotracking, migrant ecology, and the diversity and ecology of Neotropical resident birds. His students often carried this work forward. He inspired and helped set people on a productive course with great ideas and often with funding, too. Dwain's death followed those of his first wife, Dorothy Warner (Holway), and his son Robert. He is survived by his wife, Marie Ward; daughters, Betsy and Bonnie; sons, Bill, Richard, and David; 11 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
I thank Marie Ward, Bob Dickerman, and John Rappole for their help in preparing this memorial.