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1999 career capstone, was dedicated to Virginia and their children, “for all of whom
natural history became a way of life.” 14
Like most of us who as kids read about reptiles, Henry yearned to see boa constrictors,
green iguanas, and other charismatic tropical species. By the mid-1960s, when his chil-
dren were old enough to travel, he was intrigued by a recently published, poorly sup-
ported claim that tropical animals reproduce year-round. Moreover, he had been do-
ing catch-process-release at the Reservation for years; he'd never liked winter, when
reptiles are inactive, and—unlike Joseph Grinnell, who famously limited his fieldwork
to California—Henry was subject to wanderlust. As it happened, a consortium of U.S.
and Latin American universities had just formed the Organization for Tropical Studies,
and in 1965, at age fifty-five, he was the last professor enrolled in its now-legendary
graduate ecology course. Daniel Janzen was on the faculty in Costa Rica that summer,
and Henry watched with admiration for his colleague's verve as Dan said in a lecture
that O.T.S. director Leslie Holdridge's habitat classification scheme didn't work and was
fired on the spot.
There followed two decades of tropical biology, extending as far as Ecuador and con-
ducted in the winters or when Henry was on sabbatical. Because tropical snakes are
often nocturnal and he had poor night vision, research necessarily focused on other
reptiles. The family spent a year comparing lizard demography at Costa Rican sites,
and when Alice and her husband, Tony, were University of Oklahoma grad students
they traveled for months with her father, surveying anoles in Mexico and Central Amer-
ica. His daughter was twenty when they first went to Costa Rica, and years later he
chuckled at how young men volunteered assistance when she was along. David Hil-
lis, then an undergrad at Baylor and now a University of Texas professor, accompan-
ied him for a semester on another expedition. 15 And with grad student Robert Hender-
son, Henry studied iguana biology and conservation for both the right-wing Somoza and
Marxist Sandinista governments of Nicaragua, as well as reptile ecology in Mexico and
the Dominican Republic. 16
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