96,704. And Still Counting


WC wrote earlier about the sad and sudden death of his friend, Ken Philip. Since WC wrote that obituary, there have been some developments.

First, it turns out Ken had the last laugh. A couple of years ago, WC was at Ken’s house and asked Ken if he had a will and had made arrangements for his death. Ken looked WC in the eye and told WC, “Arrangements have been made.”

Indeed they had.

The “arrangements” included Ken’s naming WC as his personal representative – executor – under his late 1980s will, without telling WC what he had done. After getting over the shock, and with the patience and permission of his law firm, WC was honored to accept. And after 8 months of effort, WC is pleased to offer a progress report.

Ken’s butterfly collection, estimated at 82,000 specimens, has been transferred to the University of Alaska Museum of the North, which will sort out how to divide the specimens between itself and the Smithsonian. WC is deeply grateful to the University of Alaska Museum, and especially Dr. Derik Sikes, Curator of Entomology, and his entomology technician, Kath Daly, for their heroic work in getting the butterflies moved. Kath Daly is working on the monumental task of inventorying the collection, and reported recently that the specimen count is 96,704, with many still left to inventory. 82,000 was amazing. 96,704 is somewhere past astonishing.1

Significant progress has been made on administration of the rest of the Estate, thanks to the tireless efforts of a number of volunteers.

The Estate is still in administration, but Ken’s siblings have generously agreed to give the entire estate to the Kenelm Winslow Philip Entomology Fund, to benefit the Entomology Department of the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Among the purposes of the Fund will be the completion and publication of Ken’s Field Guide to Alaska Butterflies. WC thinks Ken would be very, very pleased.

Here is a sneak peek at a POSSIBLE sample page of the Field Guide. No one is promising a publication date, but at this date the omens are auspicious.

Sample Pages from Field Guide to Alaska Butterflies

Sample Pages from Field Guide to Alaska Butterflies


  1. WC has been known to criticize some kinds of collectors, Unsurprisingly, WC had a conversation about this with Ken some years ago. Ken pointed out to WC that if you took his total specimens and divided them by the square miles of geography where had obtained them (the Russian Far East, Alaska and Canada), it averaged out to one specimen per 1,000 square miles, over a period of almost 40 years. This was not the only argument WC lost with Ken. 
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