Erle Galen Kauffman February 9, 1933 to December 16, 2016
Erle Galen Kauffman, 83, former Professor (1980-1996) and Chair (1980-1984), Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, died peacefully at home December 16 after a long illness. Honored for his many contributions to the Geological and Paleontological sciences, Erle also was acknowledged as a master teacher, researcher and mentor, advancing the education of many through his passion for learning, rigorous science, and generosity of ideas. At the time of his death, Erle was Professor Emeritus, Geological Sciences, Indiana University, where he held a position since 1996.
Born and raised in the Washington DC area, Erle received his undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was awarded a Doctorate in Geological Sciences in 1961. Subsequently, Erle built a 20 year career with the US National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, where he ultimately held the position of Full Curator, Department of Paleobiology. During that tenure, Erle also served as Adjunct Professor of Geology, George Washington University, Washington DC.
Erle received many honors, both as scientist and educator. He was recognized with an Honorary Master of Science from Oxford University, England (1970), where he was a Visiting Professor, and an Honorary Doctor of Natural Sciences in 1987 from Georg-August-Universitat, Gottingen, Germany, and in 1986 as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar to Australia. In 1991 the Society for Sedimentary Geology awarded Erle the R.C. Moore Medal for Excellence in Paleontology, and in 1997 he was honored with the Gilbert Harris Award for Lifetime Excellence in Systematic Paleontology from the Paleontological Research Institution. Additionally, Erle was recognized with The Society for Sedimentary Geology’s W.H. Twenhofel Medal for Outstanding Contributions and Sustained Excellence in Sedimentary Geology in 1998, and more recently with the Paleontological Society’s Medal for Advancement in Knowledge in Paleontology in 2014. Erle was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served in leadership roles in many of the professional organizations of which he was a member, notably as President of the Paleontological Society, and Vice President of the International Paleontological Association.
Erle lived life fully and with great heart, exploring, adventuring, playing as hard as he worked. His love of the Rocky Mountains drew him both professionally and personally. Erle was an experienced hiker, backpacker, climber, skier and an avid fly fisherman, and these adventures were an integral part of the Family life he shared with his beloved wife and colleague Claudia Johnson, his former wife Carolyn Kauffman, and their children Donald, Robin and Erica. Erle was an accomplished banjo player, and was known, particularly by his students, for gatherings famous for good food, good wine, good music, good conversation and camaraderie.
Erle is survived by his wife of 27 years Claudia C. Johnson; his three children: Donald (Kathleen) of Sydney, Australia, Robin of Paonia, CO, and Erica (Jim) Lancaster of Atlanta, GA; six grandchildren: Shelley, Christopher, Anna, Tucker, Tate, and Reed; former wife Carolyn (Stinebower) Kauffman of Redstone, CO; and his sister Christina Kauffman of Boulder, CO. Erle was preceded in death by his parents: Erle B. Kauffman and Paula V. (Graff) Kauffman.
To honor Erle’s legacy, please consider donating to the Erle G. Kauffman fund at the Paleontological Society, the Erle Kauffman Paleobiology Fund at the Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University, or to Indiana University Health Hospice. A private memorial will be held to celebrate Erle’s life.
Arthur J. Boucot (1924-2017)
Dr. Arthur James Boucot, 93, Emeritus professor, Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, passed away April 10, 2017, in Denver, Colorado, after an operation for congestive heart failure. Art was internationally renowned in the fields of paleobiogeography, Paleozoic biostratigraphy, brachiopod taxonomy, paleocommunity evolution, natural history, and paleoecology. Art was also an ace field geologist, mineralogist and an inspired teacher who sought out, cultivated and nurtured nascent scientists from all over the world.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 26 May 1924, Art showed an early interest in fossils and minerals that was cultivated by his mother and Samuel G. Gordon (1897–1952), the curator of minerals for the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. At 11, Art started his geological studies at the Wagner Free Institute of Science (1935–1939) taking courses in physical and historical Geology. Always with a practical bent, at 17, Art majored in chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (1941–1942), but dropped out to work as a crystal finisher of quartz oscillator plates at RCA in New Jersey (1942–1943) until he was drafted into WWII. In WWII, he served as an ace navigator for the Army Air Corps, Eighth Air Force (First Lieutenant: 1943–1945), flying 45 missions over Western Europe in B-24 bombers. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other service medals, Art returned from the War and facilitated by Dr. Gordon and Veteran’s National Scholarships, he started his undergraduate mineralogical studies at Harvard College. He soon found that mineral physics was not his forte, and he turned to paleontology under the supervision of Preston Cloud, graduating magna cum laude in Geology (A.B., 1948) and obtaining his masters a year later.
Art received his Ph.D. in 1953 at Harvard University for his work on the Silurian-Devonian stratigraphy of the Moose River Group, west-central Maine, mentored by Preston Cloud and then Marland Billings, after Cloud moved to the U.S.G.S. Art also worked at the U.S. Geological Survey (1951–1956) and learned Paleozoic gastropods and brachiopods from J. Brookes Knight and G. Arthur Cooper, respectively, at the Smithsonian Institution. Art went through the ranks to Associate Professor at MIT (1957–1961) and Professor at California Institute of Technology (1961–1968). He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, but after a year, became a Professor of Geology, and then Zoology, at Oregon State University (OSU), Corvallis, Oregon (1969–2006). At OSU, he was a Distinguished Professor of Zoology (1991–2006) and Emeritus Professor (2006–until his death).
Art’s main emphasis concerned the biostratigraphy of Silurian and Devonian systems and paleocommunity evolutionary ecology and biogeography. He worked primarily with Paleozoic brachiopods discovering that rare species were important for recognizing stratigraphic boundaries (which led to ‘boucotizing’ outcrops to seek out the rare species to refine geologic maps and stratigraphic relationships), while cosmopolitan taxa were more resistant to extinction. A corollary to that discovery included that taxa with small populations evolved more quickly than taxa with larger populations. These findings led to the development of his evolutionary-ecology units (EEUs), laying the foundation for Phanerozoic community stasis during environmental stability and community turnover during environmental change. He also saw that behavior, once formed, was relatively fixed in ecological systems and over time. His early work also presaged taphonomic studies, including how current sorting affected shell distributions and distinguishing between live:dead assemblages in the fossil record. With Jane Gray, they published the earliest records for land plants at that time. In all, Art published nearly 570 papers, including eight books, many geologic maps, book chapters, and edited volumes.
Art received many honors for his influential international work. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship to examine the Silurian-Devonian of Western Europe, and several distinguished honors from the National Academy of Sciences, including Exchange Fellow to the Soviet Union, Senior Scholar to China and Distinguished Scholar to China. He received the Congressional Antarctic Medal, SEPM’s Raymond C. Moore Medal, National Science Award (First Class) from the Academia Sinica, Paleontological Society Medal, and the Gilbert Harris Award of the Paleontological Research Institute, among other distinguished honors.
Art’s service to Paleontology and Geology is legion, and only a few salient contributions are discussed here. He served from 1972 to his death as the U.S. member for the International Geological Congress (IGU) subcommittee on the Silurian System, as a U.S. member for IGU subcommittee on the Ordovician-Silurian Boundary (1974–1987), Chairman for Project Ecostratigraphy for IGU (1974–1976), National Research Council Panel member concerning pre-Pleistocene Climates (1980–1982), advisory committee member for NSF’s Earth’s Sciences (1982–1985), President of the Paleontological Society (1980–1981), President, International Palaeontological Association (1984–1989), and Vice-President, International Commission on Stratigraphy (1986–1989).
Art could not have done all his work without his beloved wife, Barbara “Bobbie” Boucot. Bobbie was a brilliant student at Radcliffe College and Art convinced her to teach him the French language so that he could pass his language exam. One thing led to another, and Bobbie and Art were married in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1948. They had four children, Hanna, Samuel, Katherine, and Peter. Bobbie kept Art’s life in order, from helping with field work, boxing up fossils that took several semi-trucks to move, editing his manuscripts, raising their family, as well as engaging in her passion for genealogy and the Indiana Pacers. Sadly, Bobbie passed away in 2011 with Art by her side after 63 years of marriage. He was devastated. A few years passed and Art connected with Dr. Kathy Nichols, a Triassic paleontologist who had just lost her precious husband after 45 years of marriage, the Triassic biostratigrapher, Dr. Norm Silberling. Art and Kathy were dear companions until his death. Art’s children, three grandchildren, and Kathy survive him. Art was preceded in death by his mother, the noted pulmonary specialist, Dr. Katharine Boucot Sturgis, and her first husband, Arthur Barrow Guest, a lawyer and insurance agent (after WWII, Art changed his last name to Boucot after his mother’s second husband).
Art was not “all” science, he had a passion for collecting “wicked” minerals from all over the world, including gigantic opals that gleamed and glistened brighter than the sun. He donated that world-class collection to the Smithsonian Institution along with his ~ 20,000 brachiopod specimens. He also loved his rhododendrons and fussy cats, and he had a kicker of a salad dressing, full of spicy seasonings from all over the world. He was on par with William Buckland, devouring extreme gastronomic delights on his international travels. But most of all, he cared about the future of Paleontology. To that end, Bobbie and Art led a relatively frugal lifestyle (Art stuffed his 6’ 3” frame into the same little red Datsun for 34 years), and they saved enough money to contribute to an endowment, the Arthur James Boucot Research Grants, to fund early career paleontologists. They transferred that fund to the Paleontological Society in 2000.
Art is honored with another fund at the Paleontological Society, the Boucot Fund, which supports undergraduate and graduate student research in paleontology. To honor Art’s legacy, please consider donating to the Boucot Fund at the Paleontological Society. Art’s stratigraphic insights and collections were foundational, his knowledge of the fossil record was unparalleled, and his support for the future of paleontology was unwavering. Paleontology has lost a giant, but he will never be forgotten. A private memorial will be held to celebrate Art’s life.
Dr. Sally E. Walker
University of Georgia
Dear Members of the Paleontological Society:
Dr. John Pojeta, Jr., 81, Scientist Emeritus at the United States Geological Survey, passed away on July 6, 2017,
at Casey House, Rockville, Maryland. John was renowned for his work on the origins and early evolution of molluscan classes; his research focused primarily on the evolution, phylogeny, biostratigraphy, and paleoecology of Cambrian and Ordovician pelecypods, chitons, and rostroconchs. His research contributions to paleontology were matched by his tireless service to the profession, in which his wife of 60 years, Mary Lou, avidly joined him.
A native of New York, John received his B.S. in biology from Capital University in Bexley, Ohio, and completed his M.S. (1961) and Ph.D. (1963) degrees at the University of Cincinnati under the supervision of Kenneth Caster. From 1963 until his retirement in 1994 John was employed by the USGS, initially as geologist and eventually as Chief of the Branch of Paleontology and Stratigraphy (1989-1994). During his more than 30 years at the USGS, John developed collaborations worldwide; he served as USGS-Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources exchange scientist and as visiting scientist to the New Zealand Geological Survey, and he participated in field expeditions in the Ellsworth Mountains of West Antarctica and in Senegal. He also served as consultant on living mollusks (involving extensive SCUBA work at Eniwetok Atoll and in Belize) for the Department of Paleobiology at the U.S. National Museum, where he remained a research associate until his death. In his spare time, John developed an off-campus program for George Washington University, teaching introductory geology to nontraditional students. He was frequently sought as a lecturer at institutions across the country and worldwide, including in Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, China, and Mexico.
Much of what we know about the early history of mollusks comes from John’s work, including many papers with long-time collaborator Bruce Runnegar. The importance of John’s publications is apparent from such titles as “Rostroconchia: a new class of bivalved mollusks,” “Fordilla troyensis Barrande: The oldest known pelecypod,” “Origin and diversification of the Mollusca,” and “The origin and early taxonomic diversification of pelecypods.” John published nearly 150 papers, not only on Paleozoic mollusks but also on paleontological techniques and collecting, including issues with collecting on public lands. His scientific contributions have been recognized by Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of America, and the Paleontological Society. He received medals from the Geological Society of China and the Chinese Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources, and Honorary Membership in the Association of Australasian Paleontologists for contributions to Australian paleontology. Eleven genera and species of mollusks, as well as Pojeta Peak in the Ellsworth Mountains of West Antarctica, have been named for him—a fraction of the number of taxa he has named for others!
John’s expertise and attention to detail made him an oft-sought member of high-visibility committees. For example, he served on several committees for the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, including the Committee on Guidelines for Paleontological Collecting, and on the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature, the Advisory Committee for the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, and the USGS Geological Names Committee, which he chaired.
John gave willingly of his time and energy to professional service and was actively involved in nearly two dozen professional organizations, serving as an officer for half a dozen of them. He was most significantly involved with the Paleontological Research Institution, for which he served as Vice-President and President of the Board of Trustees, and the Paleontological Society. John’s extensive service to the PS included positions as Book Review Editor, Business Manager for Special Studies, and the PS Fellows Committee. John served as Paleontological Society Secretary from 1982–1988, followed by terms as President-Elect, President, and Past-President. For many paleontologists, John Pojeta, with Mary Lou by his side, was the face of paleontology; for 25 years the two of them organized and staffed the PS exhibit booth at national and regional GSA meetings, the North American Paleontological Convention, and other professional meetings. John worked tirelessly to promote his vision of “The Paleontological Society as the vehicle for the profession to use for improving its lot in American science” (articulated in his presidential address; Journal of Paleontology 65:347-354). In recognition of John and Mary Lou’s unstinting service, the PS instituted the Pojeta Award (paleosoc.org/grants-and-awards/pojeta-award), for “exceptional professional or public service by individuals or groups in the field of paleontology above and beyond that of existing formal roles or responsibilities.” Fittingly, John and Mary Lou were the first recipients.
John’s official roles represent only a part of his contributions to paleontology. Although John could seem stern — especially when debating such topics as whether the appropriate terminology should be “pelecypod” or “bivalve” — his generosity towards and support of other paleontologists were unsurpassed. His friends and colleagues recall with gratitude his wisdom and sense of humor as a mentor and peer; his encouragement of new researchers; his helpfulness in introducing graduate students to the Smithsonian collections; his generosity in providing fossils to augment the teaching collections of young faculty members; his outreach to amateurs and professional collectors; and the amazing hospitality he and Mary Lou showed to paleontologists visiting D.C. Their annual Christmas letter was a veritable who’s who of paleontology, as the Pojetas listed, month by month, the numerous colleagues that they had hosted at their home. John Pojeta touched the lives of many of us by living the vision he had for the advancement of our science, and we are the better for it.
John is survived by his wife Mary Lou, his daughter Kim (T.J. Oakes), son John (Christine Linn), six grand-children, two great-grand-children, and his brother Martin. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Paleontological Society, the Paleontological Research Institution, or Casey House hospice of Rockville, Maryland.
Dr. Patricia H. Kelley
Professor Emerita, University of North Carolina Wilmington