Friedrich Walter Goethe, Corresponding Fellow of the AOU since 1962, died peacefully on 3 January 2003. He was born on 30 June 1911 in Kiel. He spent part of his childhood in Wilhelmshaven, where he would later become a scientist at the Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland.” He studied zoology, botany, geography, and ethnology at the universities of Freiburg (Breisgau), Basle, and Münster, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1936, with a doctoral thesis on the biology of the Herring Gull on the bird island Memmert. After graduation, he was hired at the Research Center for German Wildlife in Werbelinsee, where he studied the biology of mustelids, and later at the Biological Section of the UFA Movie Company in Babelsberg. After the Second World War, he restarted his scientic career at the Department of Natural History at the Lippe-Museum in Detmold. He wrote The Birds of Teutoburg Forest in 1948. In 1951, he accepted an invitation from Professor Rudolf Drost to work as a scientist at the Institute of Avian Research in Wilhelmshaven, where he succeeded Drost as director of the institute in 1958. Goethe’s lifetime research was focused on the biology of the larger gulls; he contributed to a better understanding of their behavior and ecology. Besides his scientic interests, he was an enthusiastic nature conservationist. For his contributions to the biology and conservation of seabirds, Dr. Goethe received various honorary fellowships and awards.
After retirement in 1976, Friedrich Goethe devoted much of his time to studying the role of the mute swan in culture, art, and poetry and its relationship to man, studies that were begun by his wife prior to his retirement. The couple were able to devote many happy years to their mutual work. Friedrich Goethe always took time to share his enormous knowledge about nature and wildlife with others, irrespective of other constraints.
A more detailed memorial with portrait was published in 2004 in Vogelwarte 42:281–282.