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Robert H. Stoddard: 1928-2018

The geography community at the University of Nebraska Lincoln lost a treasured colleague when Robert H. Stoddard died on May 21, 2018 at age 89.

Stoddard was born in Auburn, Nebraska, on August 29, 1928, the son of Hugh Pettit Stoddard and Nainie Lenora Robertson Stoddard. He married Sally E. Salisbury in 1955 and had three children: Martha, Andrew, and Hugh.

He started his studies at Nebraska Wesleyan where he earned a bachelors in 1950. Stoddard then earned his master’s in 1960 at the University of Nebraska. He received his doctorate at the University of Iowa in 1966 and joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska the following year. He remained there for 40 years, until his retirement in 2006. Altogether, Stoddard has taught for more than 40 years at Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Stoddard was a specialist in the Geography of Asia, publishing especially on the geographic patterns of pilgrimages and sacred sites. He put his geography into practice by travelling widely with his family throughout Asia (and beyond), including extended stays in India and China. Bob had a strong sense of social justice and a keen appreciation of the many legitimate ways to live in this diverse world. Stoddard also taught high school in India (1952-57), and was Visiting Professor at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal (1975-76), and the University of Columbo in Sri Lanka (1986).

Dr. Rana P.B. Singh notes that “Bob was a pioneer in the geographic study of pilgrimages. He commenced his focus on the geography of religion with a Master’s thesis on the locations of churches in a Nebraska county (1960) and a Doctoral dissertation on Hindu holy sites in India (1966). He was co-editor of Sacred Places, Sacred Spaces (1997) and the GORABS chapter in Geography at the Dawn of the 21st Century (2003). His visits to many holy places in India have included the Himalayan sites of Kedanath and Gangotri.”

In addition to much productive research, many scholarly publications (notably Field Techniques and Research Methods in Geography, 1982), and unstinting university service, he also served his local community as a member of the Lincoln-Lancaster Planning Commission (1974-78). He was also a dedicated teacher and mentor, and these qualities were recognized when the National Council for Geographic Education gave him its Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992.

A collection of essays was published in 2016 in honor of Stoddard’s years of exemplary service. A copy of “Space, Region & Society: Geographical Essays in Honor of Robert H. Stoddard” is available online at http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/zeabook/48.

 

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