In Memoriam: Tom Volk

January 28, 1959-November 28, 2022

Thomas J. Volk was born January 28, 1959, in Girard, Ohio, and died November 28, 2022, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a postdoc (both with Tom Leonard), a second postdoc at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Madison (with Hal Burdsall), and a professorship at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, brought him true professional status as a mycologist. He was a popular professional at mushroom forays where he led many avid amateurs to learn more about fungi.

Early in his career Tom became widely known for his “Fungus of the Month” pages that began 25 years ago (January 1997). This exceptional series brought the information that Bob Dylan once had the lung disease caused by Histoplasma capsulatum, that what looked like dog vomit was actually the sporangia mass of the slime mold Fuligo septica, and that a basidiomycete looked like a piece of male dog anatomy. There were timely fungi: yeasts to ferment chocolate for St. Valentine’s Day, and Claviceps purpurea of Salem witches in October, and mycorrhizae fungi for Christmas trees in December.

The site had many fungal images from early diverging groups to many kinds of basidiomycetes that Tom made available to the mycological community for teaching before Google images.

His site also was a way for Tom to communicate with his many followers. He chronicled serious health problems, including “Transplant Experience” about the heart transplant that gave him 16 more years of life.

Tom’s philanthropy included generous contributions of time to mycology and financial contributions to promote medical mycology. He also gave to the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps. He was honored by election to the Blue Stars Hall of Fame. Tom was chosen as a MSA Fellow and a shoo in for the Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching Mycology; the North

American Mycological Association (NAMA) recognized him for Outstanding Contributions to Amateur Mycology. A more detailed memorial will appear in Mycologia later.

Donations in Tom’s memory may be made to The Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps in La Crosse, the Mycological Society of America, or the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Botany Department.