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In Memoriam Dr Richard P. Vari (1949-2016)

In Memoriam Dr Richard P. Vari (1949-2016)
Cybium 2016, 40(2): 107.
It was with shock and profound sadness that we learned of the
passing of Richard Vari (“Rich”) on January 15. Born on August
24, 1949 in Newburgh, USA, he was 66 and still active despite his
upcoming retirement and year-long battle against cancer. Since
1980, Rich occupied a position as Curator in the Division of Fishes
at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural His-
tory, Washington, where he also served as Chairman of the Depart-
ment of Vertebrate Zoology and Interim Associate Director for Sci-
Scientists around the world recognized Rich’s expertise on the
systematics of freshwater shes, particularly the ostariophysan sh-
es of South America, including Characiformes, Siluriformes and
Gymnotiformes. Nevertheless, the genus name Variichthys Allen,
1993 honors his early work on the Australian Terapontidae, and
he also published on African and Asian catshes. All told, Richard
authored or co-authored more than 150 publications, and described
10 sh genera and 194 sh species. Five species, all from South
America, have been named after him. In 2008, he received the pres-
tigious Robert H. Gibbs, Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Sys-
tematic Ichthyology from the American Society of Ichthyologists
and Herpetologists.
Richard Vari’s death represents a great scientic loss for ich-
thyology in general, and a tremendous personal loss for his numer-
ous colleagues, co-authors, students and mentees. In particular,
Rich worked tirelessly to foster the success of Neotropical ichthy-
ologists, and his laboratory always hummed with the activity and
excitement of visiting students and researchers from across Latin
America. Rich never hesitated to share his knowledge with students
and colleagues, and always respected and supported all members
of his team, no matter their rank or position. We esteemed him not
only for his thorough and thoughtful approach to science, but also
for his kindness, generosity and consummate humanity. As he liked
a good joke now and then, we will also keep alive the remembrance
of Rich sharing the best recipe for a majestic Mentos-Coke erup-
tion, for which he searched for the traditional Mentos (without
gum coverage) for weeks in Washington, and nally found them
in a small gas station located 200 km from his home. Thanks to
his perseverance, the experiment was a success, as have been the
careers of the dozens of scientists that he trained, advised, encour-
aged, and inspired. We count ourselves lucky to have been among
Rich’s friends and colleagues, and we will miss him terribly.
Sonia Fi s c h -Mu l l e r , Jan Mo l , Pierre-Yves le Ba i l ,
Brian si d l a u s k a s & Raphaël co v a i n
Richard Vari in action, showing guests,
Kenneth Wan Tong You (left, Suriname)
and Phillip Willink (right, Shedd Aquar-
ium, Chicago), his beloved Museum
Support Center (Washington, 25 October
Richard Vari during his visit to Naturalis, Leiden (October 2010), while pre-
paring the special issue on shes of the Guianas for Cybium.
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