This year Prof. Dr. F.P. Jonker, Frits as he is known among his friends, will retire from the formal academic life at the State University of Utrecht: a long and busy life of 49 years, devoted to teaching, administration, and scientific research. Looking back on all these years, one realises the important contributions that Jonker has made to botanical science in general and to palaeobotany in particular, both in The Netherlands and abroad, as well as the impact he has exerted on his surroundings, culminating in the vigorous activities of the Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology at Utrecht. To describe Jonker’s life history is indeed to describe the history of his laboratory. To understand the significance of Jonker and the character of the “lab”, we have to trace his life from its very beginnings at the town of Almelo in the eastern Netherlands, where he was born in 1912. His father and mother were teachers and both liked (wild) flowers. Thus both an intellectual and botanical background were already part of his life at a very young age. Soon Jonker joined a group of boy-scouts, where he combined his love for the outdoors with his interest in nature. In high school the biology teacher was Dr. J. Van Beusekom, an Utrecht botanist, who was at the same time scout-master of the scout group. In these formative years, “de Beus” was a decisive factor in influencing Jonker’s career. It was largely because of Van Beusekom that Jonker went to Utrecht University as a student.