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AGS Members - In Memoriam
BURTON W. ADKINSON
Burton W. Adkinson, a former Director of the AGS in the early 1970s, died this past September (1909-2004).
The appointment of Dr. Adkinson as Director was announced at the Society's annual dinner, November 20, 1970. It was greeted with pleasure, given his obvious qualifications, and also a certain relief. It signaled the restoration of normalcy and authority in the conduct of AGS affairs after a period of disruption including a year under staff members as acting directors, 1969-70.
Dr. Adkinson was no stranger. He had been a Fellow since 1944 and had served as Councilor 1959-64. Withal he brought with him a wealth of relevant experience acquired in a distinguished career from his 1942 Clark University Ph.D. in physical geography, his OSS involvement, during World War II, the Library of Congress Map Division and Directorship of the Reference Department 1948-57, and from the National Science Foundation where he served until his retirement in 1970.
At the NSF, his office facilitated the publication, retrieval, storage, and exchange of scientific information worldwide. During this period he also served as president of the Special Libraries Association and the International Federation of Documentation.
While at the AGS, Dr. Adkinson worked to coordinate the activities of the AGS and the Association of American Geographers and strove to produce a number of small, regional conferences, which he found to be particularly effective venues for the communication of ideas.
After his departure from the AGS in 1973, he returned to Washington to write a book on the history of science information services in the federal government, published in 1979. In recognition of his leadership in the field of science information, he was awarded a medal in 1995 by the American Society of Information Science.
I remember his time at the AGS with pleasure and affection.---Richard H. Nolte, Councilor Emeritus
ARTHUR H. ROBINSON
Arthur H. Robinson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison died October 10, 2004. Known to all as "Robbie,” he was widely acknowledged as the "Dean of American Cartography." The American Geographical Society awarded him its O. M. Miller medal for "outstanding contributions in the field of cartography or geodesy" in 1998. He was a Fellow and long time supporter of the AGS.
Arthur H. Robinson was born in Montreal on January 5, 1915 of American parents, James Howard and Elizabeth (Peavey) Robinson. He earned an undergraduate degree at Miami University (Ohio) in 1936, a M.S. degree at the UW-Madison in 1938, and began Ph.D. studies at The Ohio State University the same year. The Second World War interrupted, and in 1941 Robinson was asked to head the Cartography Section of the Geography Division of the OSS, the forerunner of today's CIA. He moved on to the position of Chief, Map Division, OSS during the war. In 1945, Robinson was hired as an Assistant Professor of Geography at the UW-Madison. He completed his Ph.D. under Guy Harold Smith at OSU in 1947, and remained on the faculty at UW-Madison throughout his professorial career, retiring in 1980.
Of Robinson's many professional publications, two of the earliest were printed in The Geographical Review. During his prolific career, three of his books had major impacts on his chosen profession. The Look of Maps, the first of these, was published in 1952. This book was revolutionary for its time. The prevailing paradigm in cartography, during and immediately following the Second World War, was that the map was a working spatial database. The Look of Maps considered the map as an aesthetic creation and as an insight into the culture of a civilization at the time of the maps creation. A combination of the prevailing database paradigm with this consideration of the aesthetic aspects of maps led directly to a new paradigm for the field. The Look of Maps was reprinted in 1966 and again in 1985.
Robinson's The Look of Maps was followed closely by the first edition of his Elements of Cartography in 1953. "Elements" proved through its subsequent editions to be the "bible" for the introductory course in cartography as taught in university geography departments. Today in its sixth edition, "Elements" remains a necessary reference text for most academic cartographers. Editions of Elements of Cartography were translated into Spanish, Hebrew, Polish, Japanese, and Chinese, thus broadening the benefits of cartographic education worldwide.
A third book, The Nature of Maps, fostered the intellectual development of the field of cartography in the 1970s. Co-authored with one of Robinson's doctoral students, Barbara Bartz Petchenik, The Nature of Maps is a philosophical approach to the understanding of maps.
Robinson is perhaps most widely known outside academe for the map projection that he developed. Forever frustrated by the inability to reduce the spherical surface of the earth to a flat sheet of paper, cartographers have devised many map projections. Some retain important useful properties of the spherical surface but in so doing introduce major distortions to the shapes and/or areas of landmasses. Robinson devised The Robinson Projection as a compromise and it was drafted in the early 1960s. The mathematics of the projection were determined in the 1970's, and today it receives widespread use. In 1988, the National Geographic Society adopted his projection as a National Geographic Society standard projection for all its world maps. The Robinson Projection is also used by many federal government agencies and in atlases published by Rand McNally and Company.
In addition to the AGS's O.M. Miller award, Robinson’s work was internationally recognized by receipt of the Carl Mannerfelt Medal, the highest honor awarded by the International Cartographic Association. He lists two honorary degrees, the Silver Medal of the British Cartographic Society, and the John Oliver LaGorce Medal of the National Geographic Society among his many awards. He served as the fourth president of the International Cartographic Association, and as vice president and president of the Association of American Geographers.
Unquestionably, Arthur H. Robinson was the major contributor during the second half of the 20th century to the creation of a solid foundation for the development of a cartographic science. The theories and principles of this science are taught in North American academe and applied in government and industry on a daily basis. They have directly led to today’s sophisticated use of maps in the science and technology of Geographic Information Science.--- Joel L. Morrison
CHAUNCY D. HARRIS
[From the New York Times] HARRIS--Chauncy Dennison. On December 26, 2003, The American Geographical Society celebrates the extraordinary life of Chauncy Harris and mourns his passing. In addition to his invaluable leadership in the larger comunity of geographical scholarship worldwide, Chauncy served as a Councilor of AGS from 1961-1974, and as Vice President from 1969-1974. He was a longtime member of the editorial board of AGS's ''Geographical Review,'' a key player in the founding of AGS's ''Soviet Geography,'' and co-editor of the latter for many years. In 1985 the Society awarded him The Cullum Geographical Medal for his service in the ''advancement of geographical science'' writ large. His particular loyalty to and support of AGS continued, however, up until his very last days. We will miss his sage advice and unstinting friendship. His was a life well lived, and the American Geographical Society was fortunate to be a significant part of it. John E. Gould, Chair Jerome E. Dobson, President Mary Lynne Bird, Executive Director
Published: 01 - 04 - 2004 , Late Edition - Final , Section 1 , Column 1 , Page 19
[A more detailed obituary is available at the New York Times website.
TERRY G. JORDAN
Back in 1959, Terry Jordan---later to become Walter Prescott Webb Professor in History and Ideas in the Department of Geography at the University of Texas---became a Fellow of the American Geographical Society and remained so for forty-four years. Terry died on October 16th, 2003, leaving a legacy of fine scholarship.
A good number of his articles and reviews, we are proud to report, were published in the Geographical Review. They started with “Population Origins in Texas, 1850,” back in 1969, and continued through such important works as “Perceptual Regions in Texas” and “Folk Architecture in Cultural and Ecological Context.”
Terry and his wife, Bella Bychkova, were also lecturers in the AGS’s Travel Program.
Terry’s influence on the field was far-reaching---including a term as President of the Association of American Geographers, field research in sixty-five countries, and the publication of works on folk architecture, burial customs, forest colonization, agricultural practices, and village life. We are honored to have had him in our fold at the AGS for so many fruitful years.
The recognition of geographical achievements by members of the international community is an important element in the Society’s Awards Program, indeed, a foundation of the original charter for the awards. One such recipient---David Amiran, of Israel, who was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 1987---is a good example. He died on February 26th, 2003.
Amiran, who taught at the Hebrew University, was a founding editor of Jerusalem Studies In Geography, and one of the compilers of the impressive Atlas of Israel.
As written in his citation, “At a time of intense pressure to expand the parameters of human settlement in many parts of the earth, Amiran was a leader in the call for wise and sustainable human use of natural environments.” He was a pioneer in considering the fragile nature of harsh environments and their place as enduring human settlements.
Ruby Miller and her husband, the late Penn State geographer Will Miller, were important supporters of the AGS through their Galileo Circle membership. Ruby died at State College, Pennsylvania, on October 7th, 2003.
John R. "Russ" Mather
John R. “Russ” Mather died on January 3, 2003. He was 79 years old. His was a life well lived.
Dr. Mather was a member of the AGS Council from 1981 through 2000. He served as Secretary of the American Geographical Society from 1983 through 2000 and also chaired the society’s Honors Committee from 1988 through 1998. He was one of the stalwarts who loyally supported the society in difficult days and rejoiced in its growing strength. In so doing, he earned the gratitude, respect, and affection of colleagues and staff, all of whom extend their sympathy to his wife Sandra and his family.
In 1999, AGS gave Russ Mather the Charles P. Daly Medal, established in 1902 for “valuable and distinguished geographical labors”, an award previously given to such people as Roald Amundsen, Carl O. Sauer, Halford Mackinder, John Kirtland Wright, and Jean Gottmann. Parts of the following paragraphs are taken from the professional biography of him written for that occasion by fellow AGS Councilor Douglas J. Sherman.
Russ Mather began his professional research career in 1948 at The Johns Hopkins University Laboratory of Climatology, under C. Warren Thornthwaite. Several of Thornthwaite’s publications, including his 1961 Honorary Presidential address to the Association of American Geographers, expressed his ambition to create a scientifically rigorous university curriculum in geographical climatology. Russ Mather made this vision a reality. In 1961 Russ began an appointment as a part-time Lecturer at the University of Delaware. In 1966, Russ was appointed chair of the then-new Department of Geography, and he held that position until 1989. During the intervening years, he created a graduate program that trained several generations of some of the best climatologists in our discipline. The department Russ built currently has 12 faculty, over 200 majors in Environmental Science and Geography, and more than 30 graduate students. Just before his death, Russ completed writing a history of the department. In its pages he outlined a vision for expanding Delaware’s geography program, in which other geographical subdisciplines would attain the stature and level of excellence already achieved in climatology.
Russ’s association with the Laboratory of Climatology continued during much of the time he was building Delaware’s geography program. When Thornthwaite died in 1963, Russ became the President and Director of the C. W. Thornthwaite Laboratory of Climatology, a position he held until 1972. During that time he was involved in studies of micrometeorology, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, and other aspects of hydrology. He also did early work in natural hazards-especially coastal storm hazards-and the movement of strontium through soil. Much of this work is represented in the stream of publications he produced, ultimately exceeding a total of 100 articles and four books. His research articles appeared in the leading journals of many disciplines.
Russ Mather’s service career is similarly rich. He served on committees for the American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, National Academy of Science-National Research Foundation, and the American Association of State Climatologists, among others. Russ has been President of the Association of American Geographers [AAG]. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1989, and he has received the Commander’s Award for Public Service, given by the U.S. Department of the Army. In 1989 the AAG presented Russ with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
We will sorely miss him.
by Mary Lynne Bird & Frederick E. Nelson
E. Willard Miller
E. Willard Miller died on November 15, 2002. He was 87 years old and still active in the profession, along with his wife and colleague Ruby Skinner Miller, who survives him. He was a long-time Fellow of the American Geographical Society, and the Millers were loyal members of AGS’s Galileo Circle. Members of the AGS family extend their sympathy to his wife.
Dr. Miller was a builder of institutions: the geography department at Pennsylvania State University, the Association of American Geographers (with which in 1948 he helped the American Society of Professional Geographers to merge), and the Pennsylvania Geographical Society among them. He was an industrious scholar and field researcher on mineral resources around the world, with numerous bibliographies, reference books, articles, textbooks, and book chapters to his name, many produced in collaboration with his wife.
Dr. Miller, often with his wife, received countless awards, and they, in turn, were generous with their time, talent, energy, and funds to a wide range of professional and community organizations.
In his later years, Dr. Miller was particularly devoted to the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE). The support and leadership that Will and Ruby Miller provided played an important part in the success of NCGE’s capital campaign. The loss of Will Miller will be felt widely and by many institutions as well as colleagues.
by Mary Lynne Bird.
F. Kenneth Hare
F. Kenneth Hare, Honorary Fellow (1962) of the Society and later a Cullum Medallist, which he received in 1987 for his contributions to climatology, environmental studies, and economic geography, died on September 3rd 2002.
Hare was Professor Emeritus in Geography at the University of Toronto at the time of his death, but his list of honors and appointments stretched for a country mile. He was Dean of Arts and Science at McGill University; Master of Birbeck College, University of London; President of the University of British Columbia; Director for the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto; Provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto; and Chancellor of Trent University.
Alice Theodora Merten Rechlin Perkins
Alice loved geography and loved being a geographer. All who knew her recognized her strength of character, her professionalism, drive and intellectual acumen. She was ambitious, savvy and, could get to the heart of an issue with speed and precision. And, while all that was a truly wonderful aspect of Alice, there is far more.
While Alice sat on the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, she maintained her life-long interest in expressing herself through poetry. Alice wrote beautiful poems. The love poems she wrote especially for Don, with whom she shared the last few years of her life, were, very much like Alice, clear and direct, elegant and true.
After she retired as The Geographer of the National Geographic Society, Alice took up singing lessons with a young woman who was the lead singer in a local rock band. While Alice never had to belt-out the lyrics to anything written by Jagger or McCartney, she had Gilbert and Sullivan well in hand, and with a rather good voice, too.
At some point between wrestling with yet another geographic education issue and declining a position on the Washington Map Society board of directors, Alice bought a pair of in-line skates.
Dressed in lycra, wearing helmet, knee pads and elbow protectors, Alice had great fun zipping around Alexandria and environs.
Alice never lost sight of her keen interest in spatial data and cartography. However, Alice did get lost once. Driving to a summer concert in the wilds of suburban northern Virginia, Alice had to stop on the side of the road and request a map from the driver of the car following her. The driver of the second car informed Alice that she had an entire case of Michelin maps of Central and Southern Africa in the trunk. Alice then asked the driver if she might have something a bit more useful in their current situation such as a street map of Fairfax County. Unfortunately, the driver of the second car said she had no local maps at hand but knew a great place where Alice could get one.
Though Alice maintained a strong interest in human geography and cultural ecology, she was also very interested in politics and theology. Liberal and Lutheran, Alice, a week before she passed away, couldn’t help but wonder if God must need a good Democrat for the purposes of keeping an eye on the current administration and a talented geographer to settle the current crisis in the Middle East.
As a mother, grandmother, geographer, teacher and wife, Alice’s life was filled with love, wonder and adventure---a life that reached out to so many people across the country and around the world. Throughout her life Alice remembered the confirmation verse given to her at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in New Jersey: ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the world.’
Dr. Rechlin Perkins served as a member of the AGS Council from 1996 through 1998. She was an active member of the Association of American Geographers, the National Council for Geographic Education, the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, Gamma Theta Upsilon (International Geographical Honor Society), the Society of Woman Geographers, and the Washington Map Society. She died on June 1, 2002.
by Barbara Adele Fine
Andrew McNally III
Andy McNally, long-ime friend and supporter of the American Geographical Society, and member of the Council from 1967 to 1976, died on November 22, 2001. He was 92 years old.
Grandson of the founder of Rand McNally, Andy became president of the cartographic giant in 1948. But his interests reached far and wide. They included the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern School of Business, Newberry Library Associates, and the American Textbook Publishers Institute.
Geography, of course, ran in his blood, and he was past president of the Geographic Society of Chicago. His years on the AGS Council were critical ones, during which the Society took new direction after the moving of the collection to Milwaukee.
Robert G. LeBlanc:
Robert LeBlanc taught geography at the University of New Hampshire for thirty-six years, until his retirement in 1999, when he became Professor Emeritus of Geography. He was a Fellow of the Society for many years. LeBlanc died on September 11, 2001, when the plane he was flying in struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Dale E. Courtney:
Dale Courtney was a Life Fellow of the Society and a member for over forty years. He died on November 13, 2001. Courtney taught geography at Portland State University for thirty years.
Alexander Melamid died on March 19, 2001, in Cuernavaca, Mexico. He was almost 87 years old and still an active member of the AGS
Dr. Melamid, who was born in Freiburg, Germany, earned
his bachelor's degree at the London School of Economics and his doctorate
at the New School for Social Research in New York.
Before entering academe, Dr. Melamid worked in the
oil industry. He continued to serve as a consultant to the petroleum industry
and to port authorities around the world while on faculties first at the
New School for Social Research and then at New York University. Research,
consulting, and visiting professorships took him to Nigeria, Australia,
Canada, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Cyprus, Turkey, Ethiopia, Iran,
and a stunning assortment of other locations throughout the Middle East.
His usual practice was to bring back locally produced maps and publications
for the AGS library from the most out-of-the-way places he traveled; because
of that, the Society is in debt to him for some very unusual maps, books,
and journals, almost impossible to acquire by other means.
Professor Melamid began teaching at New York University
in 1957. Although he became Professor Emeritus in 1987, he continued to
be a research professor there for almost a decade more. He published regularly
in such journals as Middle Eastern Affairs, Middle East Journal, Oil
Forum, Oil and Gas Journal, American Journal for International Law, Economic
Geography, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Professional
Geographer and, of course, FOCUS and the Geographical Review.
Not surprisingly, when the Iran-Iraq War broke out in 1980, the U.S. State
Department immediately contacted the American Geographical Society to
request copies of all of Dr. Melamid's publications concerning the involved
Dr. Melamid joined the AGS Council in 1975 and was
one of the longest-serving members of the Council. He was Vice President
from 1980 through 1992 and Chair of the Honors Committee from 1981 through
1988. His extensive contacts abroad contributed significantly to the international
orientation of AGS honors. Those who attended the Honors Ceremony in 1999
will remember that he was there and presented two of the medals.
In 1991 the Society honored him, as he had honored
so many others, with a medal. He was awarded The Samuel Finley Breese
Morse Medal, which is given "for the encouragement of geographical research."
Alexander Melamid was one of the pillars of AGS-for
twenty-six years. The American Geographical Society will miss him deeply
and extends its sympathy to his wife Ilse and the other members of his
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