Robert Daniel (Dan) Winn, a strong supporter of herbal medicine research and medicinal plant reforestation, died on March 21, 2006, at the age of 78. He suffered a fatal head injury as a result of a fall he sustained in Nairobi, Kenya, while he and his wife Diane were attending a conference on herbal antimalarials. The conference participants dedicated the proceedings to Dan.
Diane had been invited to speak at the conference about the work she has been doing in Ghana with Cryptolepis (Asclepiadaceae), which is a potentially effective herbal antimalarial medicine that could eventually benefit millions of children across Africa (See article in HerbalGram 60).1 Dan had been intensely supportive of her work and accompanied her to Ghana on most of her trips.
Dan and Diane shared a passion for research into traditional plant medicines of Ghana. Being a patent attorney, he was always looking for intellectual property in any of the developmental work done on the vast body of traditional knowledge on West African herbal medicines that Diane received from the late Ghanaian traditional herbal medicine expert Oku Ampofo, MD, with whom Diane had worked when she was in Ghana in the Peace Corps in the 1960s.
Diane will continue to pursue this work, and if successful, it will be a legacy to Dan’s vision and commitment. Diane has established a “Dan Winn Memorial Foundation,” and the first effort on behalf of the foundation will be to establish a “Dan Winn Memorial Agroforestry Centre” in Ghana, so that his passion for plant medicines and reforestation can live on. This will be the first agroforestry center to reforest with medicinal plants and trees—a potential future site for ecotourism in the area.
Dan grew up in Dallas, TX, and served in the Army before graduating from Rice University and the University of Texas Law School. He became a patent attorney in Houston in 1952. He moved to McAllen, TX in 1959 with his wife and three children, where he became president of a mortgage company. His most notable achievements include building the first enclosed shopping mall in the Rio Grande Valley and creating Medico, a regional chain of drugstores.
Dan loved hiking in England, driving his Morgan, and dancing the Sweet Swing to Glenn Miller’s Orchestra. He loved beautiful cars, airplanes, and all things mechanical.
Dan is survived by his wife Diane, his son Robert Daniel Winn, Jr., his daughter Susan Winn Lowry, two grandchildren, his brother William Edward “Ted” Winn, Jr., and his sister Marjorie Winn Ford.
Memorials may be given to PlantSearch International Foundation—Dan Winn Memorial Fund for Herbal Antimalarial Research in Africa (check should be made to “PSIF” with “Dan Winn Memorial Fund” in the memo field), sent in care of Irvin Coker, 9501 Brunett Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20901.
1. Addy M. Cryptolepis: an African traditional medicine that provides hope for malaria victims. HerbalGram. 2003;60:54-59,67.