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MTSU’s Hemmerly remembered at Cedar Glade Wildflower Festival

A year ago, longtime MTSU biology faculty member Tom Hemmerly led the celebration in remembering the late Elsie Quarterman at the 38th annual Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade Wildflower Festival.

This year, others will be paying tribute to the late Hemmerly during the 39th annual festival at Cedars of Lebanon State Park near Lebanon, Tennessee, Friday and Saturday, April 29-30.

A Tennessee purple coneflower grows among the rocks in the cedar glades at Cedars of Lebanon State Park near Lebanon, Tennessee. (File photo by the State of Tennessee)

A Tennessee purple coneflower grows among the rocks in the cedar glades at Cedars of Lebanon State Park near Lebanon, Tennessee. (File photo by the State of Tennessee)

The event is free and open to the public. The park is located just off U.S. Highway 231, about 25 miles north of Murfreesboro and 6 miles south of Lebanon, Tennessee.

Dr. Tom Hemmerly

Dr. Tom Hemmerly

A number of years ago, event organizers renamed the Cedar Glade Wildflower Festival to honor longtime Vanderbilt professor Elsie Quarterman. The plant ecologist, whose legacy includes 60 years of dedicated research of cedar glades and conservation, died June 9, 2014, at age 103.

Hemmerly, who spent 51 years as an MTSU faculty member, died Feb. 14. He taught from September 1964 until retiring July 31, 2007, and returned to part-time teaching as both a post-retiree and as an adjunct until Dec. 31, 2015.

Dr. Kim Cleary Sadler, a biology professor and MTSU Center for Cedar Glade Studies co-director, characterized Hemmerly as a quiet person.

Noting that he was the author of four books, she said his specialty and dissertation was on the life history of the Tennessee coneflower, which was thought to have been extinct.

“Tom, Dr. Quarterman and a student found the plant,” Sadler said. “In 2015, Tom led the conversation about Dr. Quarterman at the festival, and it’s kind of sad that now we’re remembering him.”

Dr. Kim Sadler

Dr. Kim Sadler

That remembrance will occur Friday during the 7 p.m. program, which also will include presentations by members of the American Legacy Tree Project and the Tennessee Nature Conservancy.

Saturday’s full schedule includes various cedar glade and bird hikes and family events, photography, beekeeping, glade geology and an owl prowl.

Along with Sadler, a number of MTSU alumni — Buddy Ingram, Nia Davis, Roy and Melissa Turrentine, and Sharen Bracy — will lead sessions. Ingram is the park ranger.

For more information about the event and schedule, visit www.mtsu.edu/glade-center or call or email Sadler at 615-904-8283 or Kim.Sadler@mtsu.edu. The park phone number is 615-444-4565.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)