Born on 20 August, 1935 in Griffith, NSW, died on 17 August 2012 after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.
Don was born on 20 August, 1935 in Griffith, New South Wales, and up to the age of ten lived in the Riverina area (Griffith, Batlow, Wagga) before the family moved to Gosford, where he attended Gosford High School, graduating in 1952.
After a taking a science degree at Sydney University, he attended the School of Forestry at the Australian National University in Canberra. While at university, Don became involved in the fencing club (epees, not pliers), becoming so proficient that he seriously considered becoming a fencing master. Instead he went to work for the NSW Forestry Commission in 1959, initially at Moss Vale and Wingello in the NSW Southern Highlands, then in Sydney from 1960. Don married June in 1958, and they had daughter Leanne (born 1963) and son Andrew (1969).
From 1964 until retirement he was employed as a botanist at the National Herbarium of New South Wales. Here he published taxonomic work on a wide range of genera, including Apatophyllum, Dodonaea, Conospermum, Galium, and New South Wales orchids, but increasingly his work gravitated to the Proteaceae and his eventual revision (1993) of Grevillea, Australia's third largest plant genus. In parallel with his taxonomic work he developed a deep interest in and knowledge of Australian botanical history and nomenclature, publishing on the activities of Banks, Domin, Preiss, Gandoger and Salisbury, and contributing to the domestic and international literature on nomenclatural matters. His breadth of interest and expertise contributed to his posting from 1968-70 as Australian Botanical Liaison Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he laid much of the groundwork for the Grevillea revision, his main focus on return to Australia. In this period he was also foundation Secretary (1973-5) of the Australian Systematic Botany Society.
By the late 1970s, Don became aware of health problems and was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, leading to his retirement in 1985. Don's work on Grevillea continued in retirement, in collaboration with Bob Makinson, and his massive revision of the genus - the first since Meisner's - was published by Melbourne University Press in 1993. He was awarded the 1993 Engler Medal by the International Association for Plant Taxonomy for this opus. Don's work in defining morphological characters and gathering primary data was meticulous, exhaustive, and extremely accurate. It has been the foundation of nearly all subsequent alpha work on the genus, and for the selection of taxa for DNA studies.
Don's species concepts were explicitly broad, but he recognised many infraspecific taxa at formal and informal ranks - arguing that one of his aims in doing so was to provoke others to do follow-up studies. Whilst many of these infraspecific taxa have since been re-ranked by other workers, they have usually done so with few or no changes to circumscription, except as enabled by the vastly improved specimen base that Don's work stimulated.
In retirement he fought the Parkinson's by staying remarkably active on fronts ranging from casual office work and delivering newspapers, to volunteer maths tutoring of schoolkids. Above all other interests, apart from his beloved family, was fishing, particularly fly fishing for trout, at which he became proficient, often making his own flies. As his health deteriorated, he switched to estuary fishing (eventually from a wheelchair) near his home on the New South Wales Central Coast.
His collections in Australian herbaria number: 3,443 (AVH 28.8.2014)
Taxa named for D.J. McGillivray
Acacia macgillivrayi orth. var. Tindale (Tindale, Phytochemistry 13: 831 (1974) as 'mcgillivrayi', nom. nud.; synonymised under Acacia penninervis var. longiracemosa Domin (Maslin, B.R. et al. in Orchard, A.E.& Wilson, A.J.G. (Ed) (2001), Flora of Australia 11A: 250).
Apatophyllum macgillivrayi Cranfield & Lander
Leptospermum macgillivrayi Joy Thomps.
Grevillea donaldiana Kenneally
See taxa named by Don McGillivray in: Australasian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter 154 (March 2013) p.19
Source: Extracted from: R.O. (Bob) Makinson, Obituary, Aust Systematic Botany Society Newsletter No. 154, (March 2013), pp.16-18
Photo: Extracted from: slide taken by George Chippendale 1978, ANBG Photograph Collection