Thursday, October 23, 2008

John A. Wilson, 1914 - 2008

Dr. John A. Wilson of the University of Texas at Austin passed away yesterday, in Austin, Texas, at the age of 93, where he was surrounded by his family. Dr. Tim Rowe shared the news with those of us on the verpaleo listserver. I thought I would pass the information along for those of you who are not on the list.

In Dr. Rowe's words:

"Jack, as he was known to his many friends, was born on November 3, 1914, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He received a B.A. degree in 1937 and a Ph.D. in 1941 from the University of Michigan, where he studied under the supervision of E. C. Case. Jack served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during 1943-1945, and saw action in the Pacific during WW II. He taught geology at the University of Idaho School of Mines from 1940-1942 and, following the war, from 1945-1946.

In the fall of 1946, Jack moved to Austin where he joined the staff of the Department of Geology at the University of Texas. He was promoted to Professor of Geology in 1955 and taught until 1976, when he retired and became Professor Emeritus. In 1948, Jack founded the
University of Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory and its graduate training program. To date, some 90 students have earned graduate degrees from the program that Jack started, and over the course of a long and productive career he touched thousands of students in the most positive ways. Even during his retirement, Jack remained active in field work and was deeply involved in the Texas graduate training program.

Jack was a charter member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. He served the SVP as Secretary-Treasurer from 1949-1951 and as President in 1952. Jack was awarded the Romer-Simpson Medal by the SVP in 2000, at the Mexico City meetings. Jack worked in many
different areas of vertebrate paleontology during his long career, but he is best known for his pioneering research on the Tertiary mammals and biostratigraphy of west Texas and Mexico.

Jack was a giant in our profession and he leaves an exceedingly high standard of professional accomplishment and integrity, a very high bar for the rest of us to live up to."

This is a very sad loss for the field of vertebrate paleontology. To read more about Dr. Wilson's accomplishments please visit the UT Austin Vertebrate Paleontology Lab History page (picture from that page).

Edit: Also see Bill Parker's recollections over at Chinleana

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