It is with a heavy heart that we write this post in honor of Dr. Mark Simmons. Mark was the director of the Ecosystem Design Group at The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and passed away Aug. 31 in Austin, Texas due to complications from battling leukemia.
Many of us, both WCC staff and board, had the privilege of working with Mark on this project and others. Melanie Barnes, WCC Co-Founder & Secretary, had these kind words to say about Mark:
“Mark Simmons was the mind and heart of the mission of the Wildflower Center and those who shared its vision. He and Steve Windhager were instrumental in developing the current knowledge and expertise of much of the entire field of land restoration ecology, beginning soon after his arrival at the Wildflower Center in 2000. Mark’s research into green roof installations using native plant materials, restoration of degraded rural and urban ecosystems, and development of native turf grasses needing much less water and chemical intervention is considered the leading work in each of these inquiries.
Mark was also one of the driving forces behind the development of SITES, the sustainable sites initiative, which has been adopted worldwide as a set of standards for development with environmental integrity. While accomplishing these important tasks, Mark also managed to be a wonderful employee and friend, a gifted public speaker, and a sought-after professor at the University of Texas. The projects on which he worked will be forever stamped with his superior skill and caring attention, as will those of us who had the privilege of knowing and working with him. He will be impossible to replace.”
He will be dearly missed for his passion and intensity about landscape and the role it plays in people’s lives. He was a critical voice in establishing a position on how to balance the creek as a place for people and as a resilient ecological system. This is one of the most difficult challenges in building a naturalized landscape, and WCC, together with the Wildflower Center, is committed to carry Mark’s legacy forward by following through on the principles and sensibilities he espoused for how to accomplish this at Waller Creek.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.
You may view his obituary here.