Ms. Lucita Talks About David

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lucita Wait purchasing plants at the Fairchild plant sale - 1941.

There are a whole legion of people who made Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden succeed, but who seldom share the same level of recognition as our founders Col. Robert Montgomery and Dr. David Fairchild. Ms. Lucita Wait is one of those people. Lucita was born and raised in Brazil by Presbyterian missionaries who left the U.S. after the Civil War. In Brazil she developed her love of palms. When she came to the U.S. for school, she brought along that appreciation for palms.

She was friends to many of the early personalities of Miami, including her dear friend David Fairchild. She was a founding member of the garden and worked tirelessly to support the garden in her role as co-editor of the Fairchild Tropical Garden Bulletin, manager of the library and museum, and author of the first history of the garden: Fairchild Tropical Garden – the First 10 Years.

Lucita Wait and David Fairchild reviewing her book: Fairchild Tropical Garden - the First 10 Years.

Along with her contributions to Fairchild, she was responsible for much of the success of the International Palm Society. She was a good friend of Dent Smith, and was the person who suggested that he start a society of palm lovers. He did – and she became the executive secretary, and as anyone who has read through any of the archives of the history of that organization knows, the real 'glue' that kept the society together for years. She communicated with hundreds of palm enthusiasts worldwide, and as head of the palm seed bank, made sure that everyone who wanted them got as many seeds as was possible. She was admired by enthusiasts and scholars alike for her extensive knowledge of palms.

Those who knew Lucita unerringly mention the same characteristics: intelligence, humor, and energy, all delivered with grace, dignity, and serenity. But there is one more characteristics that everyone notes: Lucita loved to tell stories. When talking about people or plants, Lucita's stories imbued her subject with great personality and humor. If you wish to listen, download the file below and you will be able to listen to Lucita tell a few charming tales about her old friend, Dr. David Fairchild.


Lucita with framed description and specimen of the palm named in her honor. 


Ptychosperma waitianum, the New Guinea palm species can be found at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Plot 143.




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