Longtime member, journalist, and orchid enthusiast Chuck McCartney has died


Photo: Chuck’s “selfie” on a tripod 1986, Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park, Giant Bromeliad, Tillandsia utriculata

Chuck McCartney passed away on Sunday, October 11. He was a fourth-generation South Floridian and life-long orchid enthusiast. Through his longtime membership in the Florida Native Plant Society in the Dade and Broward chapters, he also become interested in Florida’s wildflowers. Chuck earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from Florida State University. However, except for a short stint as a high school English teacher in Miami, he was a journalist and editor, working for newspapers in his native Homestead as well as in Hollywood, Florida, where he lived. He retired in 2009 after nearly 19 years as a copy editor with The Miami Herald’s Broward Edition serving the Fort Lauderdale area. In the mid-1980s, he worked as an editor for the American Orchid Society and wrote numerous articles on orchids for AOS publications as well as for California’s Orchid Digest, England’s Orchid Review and publications of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the FNPS Palmetto magazine and chapter newsletters. His special interest was the wild orchids and other wildflowers of his native South Florida as well as the Southern Appalachians, and he spoke on these subjects to orchid societies, native plant groups, garden clubs and natural history organizations. Chuck led many chapter field trips freely sharing his considerable knowledge and love of wildflowers with all of us. A longtime friend put it this way, "Chuck was an unapologetic punster. Over any length of time, he would bring forth at least one groan from whomever was sharing the conversation, and he never failed to slip at least one joke slide into his presentations. He was my favorite curmudgeon, with a heart of gold covered by a gruff exterior."

Marjorie Shropshire, the editor of our Palmetto magazine laments: "I’ll miss working with him on Palmetto and getting a Christmas card from him with one of his beautiful photos on it."

Please share your memories of Chuck in the comments, if you wish.

by Richard Brownscombe and Patty Phares


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