Robert Rolland Brinker, O. F. M.

(15 October 1905 – 2 April 1970)1

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) curates a single vascular specimen collected by Robert R. Brinker, a specimen of Rhynchospora latifolia (Cyperaceae) which he collected in 1941 from Santa Rosa County, Florida (NCU Accession 55028).  The specimen was distributed to NCU from the Catholic University of America (LCU).

Other herbaria curating Rev. Brinker’s specimens include the Academy of Natural Sciences (PH: bryophytes & vascular plants), Australian National Herbarium (CANB: bryophytes), Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT: bryophytes), California Academy of Sciences (CAS: bryophytes), Canadian Museum of Nature (CANM: bryophytes), Duke University (DUKE: bryophytes), Harvard University (FH: bryophytes), Field Museum (F: bryophytes), Illinois Natural History Survey (ILLS: bryophytes & vascular plants — major repository), Iowa State University (ISC: bryophytes), Missouri Botanical Garden (MO: bryophytes & vascular plants), New York Botanical Garden (NY: bryophytes), Lousiana State University (LSU: bryophytes), University of British Columbia (UBC: bryophytes), University of Cincinnati (CINC: bryophytes), University of Colorado (COLO: bryphytes), Florida Museum of Natural History (FLAS: bryophytes & vascular plants), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (ILL: bryophytes & vascular plants), University of Michigan (MICH: bryophytes & fungi), University of New Mexico (UNM: bryophytes), University of Tennessee, Knoxville (TENN: bryophytes), University of Washington (WTU: bryophytes), University of Wisconsin, Madison (WIS: bryophytes  & vascular plants), Miami University (MU: bryophytes), Auburn University Museum of Natural History (AUA: vascular plants), Butler University (BUT: vascular plants), Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CM: vascular plants), Indiana University (IND: vascular plants), University of Texas, Austin (LL & TEX : vascular plants), Michigan State University (MSC: vascular plants), Oklahoma State University (OKLA: vascular plants), Troy University (TROY: vascular plants), University of Kansas (KANU: vascular plants & lichens), Notre Dame University (ND: vascular plants), University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP: vascular plants), Western Illinois University (MWI: vascular plants), United States National Herbarium (US: lichens), and United States National Fungus Collections (BPI: fungi).2

“The Reverend Robert R. Brinker, O.F.M. [Order of Friars Minor], professor of biological sciences at Quincy College and Second Vice-President of the Illinois State Academy of Sciences in 1959-1960, died of a heart seizure April 2, 1970, near St. Louis, Missouri… Robert R. Brinker was born October 15, 1905, in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Frederick and Irene Gausepohl Brinker… Father Robert entered the Franciscan Order at Teutopolis, Illinois, on July 1, 1925, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 5, 1932, at Indianapolis.  After his ordination, he spent a year in the study of sacred eloquence at St. Louis.  Later, he was parish assistant and chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital in Ashland, Wisconsin.  In 1936, he came to Quincy, Illinois, where he served the Quincy College Academy for a short time as a science teacher and later taught botany in the biology department at Quincey College.

From 1940-1942, Father Robert pursued graduate studies in botany at the Henry Shaw School of Botany, Washington University, St. Louis, and received a master of science degree.  He described eight new species of Schoenocaulon in a paper entitled, “Monograph of the Genus Schoenocaulon” published in the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 29(4): 287-314, 1942.

In 1942, Father Robert returned to Quincy College to resume teaching in the biological sciences… During his stay at Quincy College, Father Robert attained a wide reputation as a landscape gardener and as a collector of the flora of Adams County, Illinois.  His flowering plant herbarium containing approximately 1,850 specimens is preserved in the herbarium of the Illinois Natural History Survey [ILLS], Urbana Illinois.  He was interested in the study of mosses… His moss collection is in the herbarium of the Missouri Botanical Garden…

Father Robert was equally at home in the classroom or in the kitchen.  He enjoyed gourmet cooking, a task at which he attained much notoriety upon the completion of his masterpiece, the roast suckling pig.  He was chief cook on summer school trips to Florida and the Southwest and would work equally hard to produce a pot of fish soup, broiled lobsters from the Gulf of Mexico, or a sauce for the biology club pizza party…

To those of us who knew Father Robert, he was a kind and sympathetic man with an excellent sense of humor.  Let us hope that the world sees more of his type.”1

Species described by Brinker:
Schoenocaulon comatum Brinker
Schoenocaulon conzattii Brinker
Schoenocaulon macrocarpum Brinker
Schoenocaulon  mortonii Brinker
Schoenocaulon obtusum Brinker
Schoenocaulon regulare Brinker
Schoenocaulon tenue Brinker
Schoenocaulon yucatense Brinker

Brinker, Robert R. 1942.  Monograph of the Genus Schoenocaulon.  Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 29(4): 287-314.
Brinker, Robert R. 1948. Plagiochila standleyi.  The Bryologist 51 (1): 4-6.
Brinker, Robert R. 1948.  Plagiochila dotensis.  The Bryologist 51 (1): 1-4.
Brinker, Robert R. 1948. Plagiochila tricarinata. The Bryologist 51 (1): 7-9.

1.  Crane, J. L. and Robert A. Evers.  1972.  Reverend Robert Rolland Brinker 1905-1970.  Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 65: 82-83.
2.  SERNEC Data Portal. 2023. http// Accessed on September 21.
3.  IPNI (2023). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Herbarium. [Retrieved 25 July 2023].

Special thanks to Dr. Kanchi Natarajan Gandhi of Harvard University for providing the Biodiversity Heritage Library link to the Crane & Evers paper.