Ruth “Scottie” Lippitt Willey, 94, died peacefully on Feb. 11, 2023. Born in Rhode Island on May 11, 1928, she received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College. She was one of the first women to receive a PhD in Biology from Harvard University in 1956 and was a professor in the Biology Department at the University of Illinois Chicago for 30 years. She began her most important life’s work starting in 1958 at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Gothic, Colorado, which eventually named a laboratory building in her and her husband’s honor. She is remembered in particular for her research and preservation work in Colorado’s Mexican Cut and on rare plant species found in Colorado’s wetlands.

Over the past 10 years she divided her time between Oak Park and Colorado. She was an active member of the Oak Park Photography Club and the James Russell Lowell Society.

Scottie was predeceased by her husband, Robert Willey, on Nov. 11, 2011, and is survived by a number of nieces and nephews, including Alex Lippitt (Elizabeth), David Bock (Rachel), Susie Bock, Katie Bock Rosa (Angelo), and close family friend Cecilia Gray (Frank).

A memorial service will be held in July at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

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