Promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.

Visitation Wednesday for Prof. Emeritus Neil Harriman, husband of former WSO President Bettie Harriman

A celebration of Neil's life will be held from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday Dec. 12, at Konrad-Behlman Funeral Homes-Westside, 100 Lake Pointe Drive, Oshkosh.


Professor Emeritus of Biology and Microbiology Neil Harriman died at his home Dec. 7.

Harriman retired in 1998 but is, in part, remembered for his 34 years as a member of the faculty at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He joined the faculty in 1964.
Harriman was a dedicated teacher and found great satisfaction in not only teaching about botanical information, but also helping the students learn how to be life-long learners. Harriman’s research work of collecting, identifying and conserving plants was also a pleasure to him.

Neil's joy for editing the written word extended beyond botany as did his willingness to "help-out" when needed. During his retirement, Neil joined his wife Bettie as co-editors of The Passenger Pigeon, quarterly journal of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, from 2003 -2014. He also contributed his editing skills to the production of the "Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin," a 600-page book published by WSO in 2006.

When Harriman arrived on campus in 1964, the herbarium facility in Halsey Science Center was barely more than a room with cabinets waiting to be filled with dried, identified and properly labeled plants, arranged in a systematic fashion, according to his obituary. Today, it houses almost 125,000 specimens from Wisconsin and around the world, including more than 70 type specimens (the type specimen is the one upon which that species’ scientific name is based). Among those are three named in Harriman’s honor. After his retirement, UWO named the herbarium in his honor–the Neil A. Harriman Herbarium, which contains not only plant specimens, but his personal extensive botanical library.

Harriman received a number of awards and recognitions during his time at UW Oshkosh. In 1973-1974, he was given the Citation as an Outstanding Teacher. In May 1986, Harriman was named a John McNaughton Rosebush University Professorship for Excellence in Teaching and Professional Achievement. In 1993, he received the UWO Endowment for Excellence – The TRISS Endowed Professorship.

“The essence of Dr. Neil A. Harriman is perfectly stated by one of his graduate students, Tom Eddy: ‘Forty years ago, as a young graduate candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, I was encouraged by Dr. Neil A. Harriman to conduct a systemic study of the vascular flora of Green Lake County. My thesis research and association with Neil resulted in a profound change in my life trajectory, both personally and professionally.”

There are plans to memorialize Neil by raising $1,000 to adopt the Chuck-Will's-Widow in support of the 2nd Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. Donations in Neil's memory can be sent to Christine Reel, Atlas Treasurer, 2022 Sherryl Lane, Waukesha, WI 53188.

The complete obituary can be read online at:

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thenorthwestern/obituary.aspx?n=neil-a-harriman&pid=190949649&fhid=14645