Rolf Borchert, 84, of Lawrence died on November 23, 2017, at Brandon Woods at Alvamar surrounded by his family.
He was born in Frankfurt, Germany. During the war, Rolf and his family were evacuated to safety to southern Germany in Schwaebish Hall and Schondorf. After studying at the University of Tübingen, he earned his PhD in botany from the University of Frankfurt, Germany in 1962. In 1959 Rolf studied at the University of Chicago on a scholarship.
In his 40-year career as a professor of plant physiology, Rolf spent 1962-1968 at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, and 1968- 2002 in the Biology Division at the University of Kansas (KU), pursuing his interest in plants. His published research interests included tree growth patterns and the flowering periodicity in the dry, tropical forests; he spent extended periods of time conducting field work in Costa Rica. He led KU Study Abroad programs in Bonn, Germany and San Jose, Costa Rica; spent sabbaticals in Harvard Forest, Massachusetts and Darmstadt, Germany; and chaired the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology for three years in the 1980s. After retirement at 69, he continued his research and published as professor emeritus, collaborating with researchers world-wide.
Rolf met Laura in 1959, on the dance floor of a passenger ship bound for Italy from New York. After a two-year multilingual, international courtship, they were married on December 30, 1961 in Pieve di Cadore, Italy. They lived the first 6 years of their marriage in Bogota, Colombia, where their three daughters were born. From 1968 to his death, they lived in Lawrence, Kansas. Rolf and Laura remained happily married for 55 years until his death.
As an avid gardener, Rolf maintained an ornamental and vegetable garden and year-round greenhouse. He enjoyed traveling, camping, hiking, reading, classical music, skiing, and ballroom dancing. Rolf was passionate about his work, believed in life-long learning, and valued teaching students independent and critical thinking.
Rolf is survived by his wife, Laura Zandegiacomo de Lugan Borchert; his sister, Renate Torok, of Vancouver, Canada; his daughters Monika Borchert-Hillman of Freiburg, Germany, Susanne Borchert of Freeport, Illinois, and Claudia Borchert of Santa Fe, New Mexico; their respective partners, Christoph Loegler, Jim Mueller, and Bob Beers; grandchildren Stefan, Marcus, Sara, Philip, Alanna, and Lisel; and nieces and nephew.
A visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at the Brandon Woods – Smith Center from 3 – 5 p.m.
Please leave a condolence at warrenmcelwain.com or sign the guest book at Obituaries.LFWorld.com.
Memorial contributions may be made in Rolf’s name to the University of Kansas Field Station and Ecological Reserves (KU Endowment Association) or Just Food and may be sent in care of the Warren-McElwain Mortuary.