In 1946 Rose-Innes married Jasmine Gordon-Forbes, whom he had first met when
they were fellow students at Rhodes University, where she was studying Fine
Art. Their son, Crispin, was born in Johannesburg in 1949 and christened by
Bishop Trevor Huddleston in a black township. Both Rose-Innes and his wife
were fierce opponents of apartheid (Jasmine had been active in the white
women’s movement known as the Black Sash), and in 1954 they decided to leave
Their next home was the Gold Coast, where Rose-Innes was offered a job as a
grassland ecologist at the University College of the Gold Coast. They
settled at Achimota, near Accra, and in December that year Jasmine gave
birth to their daughter, Joanna.
On March 6 1957 the Gold Coast became the first British colony to gain
independence and emerged on to the world stage as Ghana. Over the following
years Rose-Innes travelled throughout the country, patiently collecting and
recording all the wild grasses he could find. These eventually led to a
complete inventory , and his book A Manual of Ghana Grasses (1977).
Specimens of his unusual finds were periodically sent to the Royal Botanic
Gardens at Kew, where they remain archived in the Rose-Innes Collection. (In
2009 he would also present Kew with seven large boxes containing personal
papers and correspondence, research notebooks, reports and photographs.)
Ghana’s President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, took a personal interest in Rose-Innes’s
work, and he was given his own department of animal husbandry within the
Department of Agriculture at the University of Ghana – a position he held
Later Rose-Innes was employed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the
UN, for which he undertook research in northern Ghana and Nigeria.
At the end of the 1960s Rose-Innes moved to England, where he worked for the
Ministry of Overseas Development on research programmes in the Third World.
Although based in London, he spent much of his time in Bangladesh, Nigeria,
British Honduras (Belize) and Somalia.
After retiring to Sussex, Rose-Innes indulged his lifelong passion for
sailing. At the age of 91, he featured on the local BBC news after he set a
new British record by becoming the oldest person to fly tandem on a
His wife Jasmine wrote an acclaimed autobiography, Writing in the Dust (1968),
which won a Heinemann Award. She died in 1998 , and he is survived by their
son and daughter.
Reginald Rose-Innes, born February 28 1915, died January 16 2012