William F. Whitman, known for his love of collecting and cultivating rare tropical fruits, died recently at his Bal Harbour home. The 92-year-old self-taught horticulturalist, whose name graces Fairchild‘s Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion, traveled around the globe searching for rare fruit, often with Dr. Richard Campbell, senior curator of tropical fruit, managing to grow tropical species in the continental United States, including the mangosteen in his own backyard. He was a founder of the Rare Fruit Council International, and his articles were collected in a book, Five Decades with Tropical Fruit.
Mr. Whitman was one of the great tropical fruit experts and a long time supporter of our work at Fairchild. With his wife and Fairchild trustee Angela, they endowed the construction and running of the Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion-the only structure of its kind in any botanic garden. Like Wilson Popenoe, David Fairchild and Carl Campbell, Mr. Whitman had been seduced by the splendor and allure of tropical fruit and he chased this interest around the world looking for the finest and rarest of varieties. Bill was a tireless mentor and enthusiast, and we have lost a great colleague and expert.
In addition to his passion for rare fruits, Whitman was an avid surfer and was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 1998. He is survived by his wife Angela, three children, his brothers, and seven grandchildren.