• NEWS
  • PRESS RELEASES
  • VIDEO
  • MEDIA KIT

Photo credit - Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

We will miss him.  I will miss him.  But his great work lives on in our community.  It is incumbent on all of us to advance the work that Dr. Danforth put into motion.  That’s what he would have wanted.

 

Dear Cortex Community and Friends, 

 

By now most of you will have heard the sad news of the passing of Dr. William Danforth.  I know that a great deal will be written about Dr. Danforth in these coming days.  There will be tributes to a man who helped shape so many of our great institutions, not the least, Cortex.  I’ll be brief with my message and if you allow me, make it a bit more personal than it might be given the passage of more time.  This won’t be an effusive or grand few sentence message because he would not have wanted it to be.  He never did want the spotlight on him.  He would just rather we all simply paid attention to the important cause that he was associated with, and goodness knows there are many. 

 

Almost twenty-four years ago I had the great privilege to be invited to join one of Dr. Danforth’s grand undertakings to help make our region better; in my case the founding and building of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.  During that time working with Dr. Danforth, I had a front-row seat to watching what selflessness and community-mindedness looked like.  I got to watch a person singularly focus on a cause.  A person who was willing to move mountains to help make that cause become something great for our region.  Never once did I see Dr. Danforth do the calculation to determine what was in it for him.  For Dr. Danforth, the return on investment, of time and treasure and wisdom, was the conversation with the young postdoc from India who was working on a trait to improve drought tolerance in maize. And it wasn’t just the interesting breakthrough research that excited him, it was also learning the postdoc’s story.  From what village in what part of India did she come?  How did she end up at the Danforth Center?  What would she do after her postdoc ended?  For Dr. Danforth, all of these grand initiatives, when boiled down to their essence, were just about people. 

 

Helping people to achieve their very best and in turn, their very best would help our community reach its full measure.  I learned so much from Dr. Danforth but perhaps the one thing that I will remember most is the day that he told me of a favorite quote.  It was a quote by Antoine de Saint—Exupery, author of The Little Prince.  Dr. Danforth told me to think about this quote as I tried to convince people to join a cause.  Exupery said, “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

 

We will miss him.  I will miss him.  But his great work lives on in our community.  It is incumbent on all of us to advance the work that Dr. Danforth put into motion.  That’s what he would have wanted.

 

 

Sam J Fiorello

President and CEO

Cortex Innovation Community

 

Visit - The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center