The Charlotte community mourns the Sept. 12 death of UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens Director Emeritus Thomas Lawrence (Larry) Mellichamp ‘70, known by many affectionately as Dr. M.
Mellichamp joined the faculty of what was then the Department of Biology (now Biological Sciences) in 1976 after completing a doctoral degree at the University of Michigan. He had earned a bachelor’s degree from UNC Charlotte in 1970, and was active in the development of the Botanical Gardens even as an undergraduate student.
An expert on native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and carnivorous plants, Mellichamp gave hundreds of talks, taught thousands of students and community members, wrote technical and general audience articles on plants and gardening, and wrote or co-authored six books that serve novice and advanced gardeners, including perhaps the best known, “Native Plants of the Southeast.”
Among his many honors, Mellichamp, who retired in 2014 after almost four decades as director of the Botanical Gardens, was the seventh person ever to receive the prestigious Flora Caroliniana Award from the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
Other honors included the Association of Southeastern Biologists Teaching award, the Tom Dowd Award from the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, and the International Carnivorous Society Lifetime Achievement award.
Throughout his career, he collaborated with many others to transform the Botanical Gardens into a site for active teaching and learning, and a place of beauty and respite for people on campus and in the broader community. He remained active with the Botanical Gardens following his retirement, providing expertise at the annual plant sales, teaching classes, and offering support in many other ways.
All are invited to leave a tribute on a memorial website. His obituary was lovingly written by daughter Audrey Mellichamp and longtime colleague Paula Gross. A public memorial service will take place in the Botanical Gardens the afternoon of Sunday October 30; details will be posted on the Gardens website as they are available. Memorial donations may be sent to the Foundation of the Carolinas for the Mellichamp Garden Staff Enrichment Fund, 220 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202.