Early this week I lost a good friend. Actually, just about everybody who has ever studied jewel beetles in any serious way lost a good friend. Dr. Charles L. Bellamy, arguably the most ardent and prolific buprestophile of our time (possibly ever), died on August 19, 2013 at his home in Sacramento, California. In a career spanning 30 years that took him from California to South Africa and back (twice!), “Chuck” pumped out more than 200 research papers (including nine research volumes and five book chapters), 27 book reviews, and with Art Evans co-authored the popular An Inordinate Fondness For Beetles! Perhaps his most significant contribution, however, was the landmark 5-volume, 3,200+ page, World Catalogue of Buprestoidea—a true magnus opus that serves as a fitting exclamation point to his remarkable career.
I write, however, not about the loss of a respected colleague, but of a true friend. I still remember receiving a letter from Chuck in late 1991 introducing himself to me, congratulating me on the publication of my Buprestidae of Missouri, and suggesting we might have reason to meet due to our common interests. I was, of course, already familiar with Chuck, as he had by then become well established as a leading authority in jewel beetle taxonomy. It was just a few months later that I would have the chance to meet Chuck in person, when I traveled with the late Gayle Nelson to southern Mexico to join Chuck and seven other colleagues at the 1992 Buprestid Workers Gathering. It was on that trip that Chuck and I struck up what would prove to be an enduring friendship. In the following years he and I teamed up on several collecting trips, first to southern California where he “introduced” me to some of southern California’s classic collecting localities such as Jacumba, Ocotillo, and Glamis Dunes, then to southeast Arizona where he introduced me to his close friend Art Evans, and later to South Africa where we spent three weeks in the veldt (a trip that remains one of the best collecting trips I have ever taken). Eventually we began a series of collecting trips to southern Mexico spanning the years 2004–2006. Declining health eventually put an end to these trips, and while I always hoped we would be able to resume them in the future, I knew that realistically his collecting days were behind him. Still, my family and I visited him and his wife Rose in Sacramento whenever we could, and when we couldn’t I enjoyed his almost daily correspondence by email.
Over the years, Chuck became my most important mentor. I remember mentioning to him during one of our trips to Mexico my interest in being an editor of an entomology journal—along with my doubts about whether I could do it. At the time Chuck was the Managing Editor of The Pan-Pacific Entomologist, and he immediately invited me to become the journal’s Coleoptera Subject Editor. Without his encouragement I may not have had the courage to try, and when the role of Managing Editor became available in 2011 he again encouraged me to take on the role. Chuck may have been the ultimate jewel beetle scholar, but he was also an avid sports fan. I remember fondly our two October trips to Mexico; making sure the hotel we checked into each night had cable television so that we could watch post-season baseball. How we enjoyed watching the Yankees fall to defeat in 2004 (my apologies to any New Yorkers that may be reading) and the Cardinals winning it all in 2006! Perhaps my fondest memory of Chuck, however, was having the privilege to fly to Sacramento and watch my friend being honored as The Coleopterists Society’s 12th Honorary Member.
As a remembrance, I have put together a slide show with photos of Chuck through the years. Although I have only a few photographs of my own (lesson learned: take photographs of friends and colleagues over the years!), mutual friends Rick Westcott and Art Evans have sent to me a number of photographs from their archives and graciously allowed me to use them in this slide show. Chuck was a colleague, my mentor, and my friend. I will miss his sage counsel and cerebral wit. I will miss his encouragement and support. But most of all, I will miss having him as my friend. My heartfelt condolences to his lovely wife Rose, whom I and my family have had the great privilege to know.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2013