Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Burton Clyde Cebulski, 1946-2013.

Burt at Chippewa Falls, Ontario, July 2012
 Burt Cebulksi, an avid enthusiast of Odonata, lost a battle with esophageal cancer on October 29.  Burt was a native Ann Arborite, born on October 6, 1946. He graduated from Pioneer High and graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. He went on to do post-graduate work at Central Michigan, and then started teaching. Burt taught biology, physics, general science and environmental science at Adrian High School for 33 years, and was an effective coach in cross country for 29 years.  The Adrian Cross Country Invitational was changed to the Burt Cebulski Invitational in 2012, to honor him as a runner, coach, and example of a caring person.  Burt once ran marathons, and just missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon, which totally surprised me when he discussed that part of his life a few years ago. Burt retired from teaching in 2004, and became more involved in working on Odonata, attending various meetings and conferences.  Burt and his wife Kerry (married in 1976) shared a love for camping, motorcycling, making glass beads, and enjoying the outdoors.

I first met Burt in 1981, when he came to the Museum of Zoology to visit Leonora K. (Dolly) Gloyd.  He became interested in Odonata in the summer of 1976 while a graduate student at Central Michigan University. Dolly's tutelage of Burt continued for about 10 years, and he collected specimens and deposited them in the UMMZ, and developed a technique for collecting Odonata nymphs from under the ice of lakes and ponds. He eventually grew very interested in the Darners (Aeshnidae), and started rearing them from eggs.  It was this interest that grew into a lengthy project of rearing parasitic wasps from the eggs of Aeshna tuberculifera. Over the span of 20 years, Burt made many visits to a favored spot in Alger County Michigan to collect material for his study of the egg parasites.  After his diagnosis of esophageal cancer in January of 2012, Burt asked me to co-author his manuscript to ensure that his project would get published.  He and his family were very pleased to see the paper appear in the Great Lakes Entomologist in early September of 2013.  I know that it meant a great deal to Burt to see it in print, and I am happy to have been part of it. In addition to his work on the eggs, he collected over 700 specimens of adult and immature Odonata from Michigan, which are still being cataloged before they are added to the UMMZ collection as part of the Michigan Odonata Survey (MOS) project.  Burt also helped students with Odonata projects at Siena Heights College in Adrian. 
Burt and Ken Tennessen at GLOM 2008
Burt was by any definition, a very interesting person with diverse interests.  He could look like a scruffy biker dude, but had a warm and generous personality. Anyone seeing the twinkle in his eye would know that he had a great sense of humor. He was a lot of fun out in the field with an insect net, and didn't always reveal his high level of knowledge about the Odonata, preferring to be in the background. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, and was a very competent naturalist. Most people did not get to see the tattoos he had of dragonflies at a pond across his back -- and he had some amazing ink on his arms of the parasitic wasps that he reared.  My favorite though, was the tattoo on his forearm that was based on a card to Dolly Gloyd from Belyshev, a Russian odonatologist. I had published a scan of the card in the newsletter Williamsonia, and Burt surprised me in March 2009 at a Michigan Entomological Society gathering with his new tattoo. It was far better than the card. He also brought dragonfly-shaped cookies that day. 
Burt’s last Great Lakes Odonata Meeting (GLOM) was in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario in July 2012.  He was feeling well enough to attend, and we had a great time driving around, telling stories, collecting Odonata, and just being out in the field together.  Standing around a pond or a stream waiting for a dragonfly to come flying by is a bit like fishing, and we discussed all kinds of topics while out in the field. Burt attended several meetings of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas and most of the GLOM meetings in previous years – in fact, more than I did.  He was a good ambassador for the study of Odonata, and introduced his son-in-law Greg Bauman to them.  Greg is now enthusiastically collecting specimens for the MOS in Marquette Co.  Burt touched a lot of people through his life as a teacher, coach, mentor, naturalist, cyclist, outdoorsman, and artist.  It is sad losing a friend too early, and Burt will be missed most of all by his wife Kerry, his daughters Erin and Chelsey, and extended family.   

Odonata Publications of Burt Cebulski
2009. Collecting Odonates Under the Ice. Argia 21(3):8-9.
2009. Hetaerina titia (Smoky Rubyspot) No Longer rare in Southern Michigan. Argia 21(4):21-22
2011. Dragonflies of Ives Road Fen Preserve. Argia. (23(1):14-15 (with Chelsey J. Cebulski).

2013. Observations on egg Parasitism of Aeshna tuberculifera (Odonata: Aeshnidae) by Eulophidae, Trichogrammatidae, and Mymaridae (Hymenoptera) in Alger County, Michigan. Great Lakes Entomologist 46(3-4):145-153 (with Mark F. O’Brien).