[To contact John, it is best to send email to his son, Bob, at: Robert
Preer <[log in to unmask]>]
Biology Department and Affiliates
Many of you read the obit for Bertie Preer in the Herald Times this
weekend, but for those who did not it is provided below. The family
has scheduled a memorial service for next Sunday, Oct. 20 at Day
Funeral Home, 4150 E. Third Street, Bloomington. They ask that you
send donations in Bertie's memory to IU Health Bloomington Hospice
instead of sending flowers to the family (see details below)
Herald-Times Obituary, Sunday, Oct 13, 2013
Dr. Louise Bertha Preer, a retired research scientist who also grew
orchids and wrote short stories, died at home Thursday, Oct. 10. She
was 95 and had battled lymphoma since 2011.
Born in Baltimore, Md., in 1917, Dr. Preer, known as Bertie, was the
youngest of four children of Harry and Caroline (Homberg) Brandau. Her
father, who was an engineer, died of cancer when she was just 6, and
the loss was keen for her and her family. Bertie excelled in academic
pursuits from an early age with formidable talent in science, but she
also won prizes for learning and speaking French, and was devoted to
reading and literature throughout her life.
With the encouragement of her high school French teacher, Bertie won a
scholarship to Goucher College in Baltimore, where she graduated in
1939. She continued her studies at Indiana University, where she
studied botany under Dr. Ralph Cleland and earned her Ph.D. in 1947.
It was also at IU that she met a young biology student, John R. Preer
Jr., and the two began a romance that lasted the rest of her life.
Their education and courtship were entwined with the nation's
preparations for entry into World War II, and their wedding in 1941 was
low-key, at her family home in Baltimore. After her husband returned
from service overseas, the young couple lived on an Army base in Texas
and started a family; their son James was born in 1944 and his brother
Robert in 1948.
After completing their degrees at IU, they moved to Philadelphia, where
John spent 20 years as a biology professor at the University of
Pennsylvania. As a young mother, Bertie successfully juggled
homemaking and raising two sons with science, working in the lab where
her husband's paramecium research was breaking ground.
Their scientific work took the Preers to Bloomington for a yearlong
sabbatical in 1957, and to Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1967. In 1968 they
moved permanently to Bloomington, where they continued to work in their
lab until the early 2000s.
Trained as a botanist, Bertie became interested in orchids after their
second move to Bloomington, where they bought a home on Maxwell Lane
that had a large greenhouse. She loved giving her gorgeous blossoms
away and provided blooms to Bloomington Hospice for many years prior to
her own illness.
Throughout her years in Bloomington, Bertie also nurtured warm
friendships with an array of neighbors, colleagues, and correspondents.
She made bread, jewelry, and stories, polishing autobiographical
vignettes that were by turns touching, engaging, and humorous.
After falling ill in 2011, at age 93, she inspired awe by successfully
completing cancer treatment, and the couple celebrated their 70th
wedding anniversary with a joyful party at home. That year Bertie also
rediscovered the autoharp, an instrument that allowed her to play and
sing along (featuring her prodigious memory for lyrics) during musical
sessions with family and friends.
Bertie is survived by her devoted husband, John, her son James and his
wife, Jean, and her son Robert and his wife, Adele Foy; grandchildren
Genevieve (Linus Tsai) and Stephen Preer (Vis Taraz), and Lily and Sam
Preer; great-grandchildren Satchel and Oscar Tsai, Audrey Preer, and
Nora Taraz; and a host of loving family members, friends, and neighbors.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, at Day
Funeral Home, 4150 E. Third Street, Bloomington, with a visitation hour
at 1 p.m. and a reception following. Bertie's nephew, Rev. J. Elmer
Medley Jr., will preside. Condolences may be left
atwww.DayFuneralServices.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be
made in Bertie's memory to IU Health Bloomington Hospice through the
Bloomington Hospital Foundation, PO Box 1149, Bloomington, IN 47402.
Clay Fuqua, Professor and Chair
Department of Biology
1001 E. 3rd St., Jordan Hall 142
Bloomington, IN 47405
[log in to unmask]
Thomas G. Doak
Research Assoc. Domain Science Liaison
Department of Biology, Indiana University National Center for Genome
1001 East Third Street (NCGAS)
Bloomington, IN 47405