Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Dorothy Catling, the well-known UK authority on
fibre identification, died in Durham (UK) on 15
April, aged 77.
Dorothy Catling was educated at Sutton High School; her father's death meant that she left school to find a job rather than go to university. In 1950, she obtained a post as assistant to Dr Metcalfe in the Jodrell Laboratory, where she was taught plant anatomy by Mr Richardson and became skilled in slide preparation and plant identification. In 1969 Dorothy left Kew to join the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Service, where she built up a reference slide collection and was involved in many court appearances. She collaborated with John Grayson in writing a book on fibre identification and wrote a thesis on the composition and identification of chipboards, which gained her the Diploma of Imperial College, London; this later enabled her to study for a PhD in spite of not having an ordinary first degree.
After her retirement Dorothy moved to Durham where she enrolled in 1992 to study for a PhD in the Biological Sciences Department of Durham University under the supervision of Dr P.J.Gates, graduating in 1996. Her thesis was entitled 'The systematic anatomy of Grevilleae and Persooniinae (Proteaceae)'. During a visit to Australia she enjoyed discussions with many Australians working on Proteaceae; several of these remained her close friends.
After retirement she continued to teach annual short courses on fibre identification, attended by many archaeologists.
Source: Extracted from: Obituary is complied by Mary Gregory in The Journal of the Kew Guild - Events of 2005
Portrait Photo: ?.