Painter, Joseph H. (Deceased)
Joe was born July 3, 1879, at Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania. As a young teenager he entered Westtown Friends' Boarding School and graduated in 1899. While a student there he got interested in plants and collected some plant specimens at the school. Later he went to Pennsylvania State College, leaving in his junior year to take a position in the National Museum, where he was appointed as an aid in 1904. He also took courses at George Washington University. In August 1903 and again in June 1905, he went to Mexico to collect plant specimens as an assistant to J. N. Rose. Joe and a 16 year-old friend, Robert S. Wallis, were drowned on December 6, 1908, while canoeing on the Potomac near Stubblefield Falls, having set out from Plummers Island, where the new canoe had been stored. It was thought likely that Joe, who was a good swimmer, died trying to help his friend, who was not a swimmer. The Washington Biologists’ Field Club offered a reward of $25 for the recovery of each body. Joe's body was finally found and his funeral held April 19, 1909, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Several species are named for him. The dedication of Meibomia painteri Rose & Standley 1913 stated, “The species is named for Mr. J. H. Painter, formerly assistant curator in the Division of Plants in the National Museum, who at the time of his death, was preparing to monograph the genus Meibomia. He had indicated this plant as a new species in the herbarium, but failed to give it a name.” Joe was elected to the Washington Biologists' Field Club in May 1908. He is the first, if not the only, Club member to die at or near Plummers Island.