San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Inventor and botanist Roy W. Lent dies at 80

Roy W. Lent, intrepid botanist and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, died of cancer last week at his home in the San José suburb of Escazú. He was 80.

Lent, who for 10 years studied botany in unexplored areas along the Caribbean slope of Talamanca, donated his body to San José’s UCI Medical, one of the finest Latin American medical schools.

While breeding plants in the early 1960s, Lent accumulated 24 collections of plants and discovered five new species. 

Lent was particularly keen on orchids, and one species now bears his name: the flowering Cestrum lentii. Always the inventor-explorer, while building a website for his brainchild association Save Costa Rica’s Orchids seven years ago, he spoke enthusiastically about his latest contraption.

“The problem is to get seed of wild native species back up into the high jungle canopy,” he said. “So I invented a cute little top balloon filled with a hydrogen system that is going to get a trial!”

Lent’s fertile imagination led him to work in many different fields, including biofuel production and wine making (TT, June 5, 2005, TT, May 24, 2007). Before he died, he remained busy promoting an energy venture researching the Jatropha curcas plant as a way to produce vegetable oil as fuel for diesels at his own Atlantis Energy (TT, Nov. 4, 2011). His research aimed to develop cultivations with other oil-producing plants to advance cyclic, integrated systems using the poisonous Jatropha – not only to produce fuel, but also food for animals and humans.

Throughout his frenetic periods of invention, Lent had also managed to build a sustainable and assisted living community and cooperative called Gaia Sana (TT, June 5, 2005).

The legacy Lent has left behind will be carried on by one of three co-founders. He is survived by two sons Billy (also called Roy) and Albert and his Honduran wife, Margarita, a former international phone operator.

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