Fred Shelley

AAG mourns the passing of Fred Shelley, a beloved teacher and mentor in the geography community, who passed away on October 19, 2023. He was a longtime professor at The University of Oklahoma in the Department of Geography, and chair of the department from 2004 until his retirement. 

Dr. Shelley was born on July 22, 1952, to Fred Shelley and Catherine (Murphy) Shelley. He was a 1970 graduate of Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, Maryland, and earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Clark University in 1974. He went on to earn an M.A. in Geography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1977, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Iowa in 1981. 

A political geographer, Dr. Shelley contributed significantly to the study of voting patterns, electoral politics, and voter responses to hot-button issues such as nuclear power. He also did valuable research into groundwater issues in the West. Equally significant were his contributions as a professor, inspiring students and bringing attention to the possibilities of geography for their research and careers. 

“When I was a “baby” geographer, Fred was kind and encouraging and importantly to me, just interested in what I was researching and presenting,” remembers 2023-2024 AAG Council Member and Executive Committee Member Marcia England. “He made many junior scholars feel like they mattered and were a vital part of geography and its future. He cared about geography and it was such a motivating and exciting thing to see as a graduate student (at a different university from his) that struggled with what they were doing and why at times. I will miss him greatly.” 

“Dr. Shelley was my master’s advisor and good friend afterwards,” says Ryan Weichelt, chair of the Department of Geography and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. “By far Fred’s enduring legacy is his dedication to his students. His commitment to political geography and electoral geography was instrumental for the proliferation of the electoral studies in geography. Fred, along with other electoral geographers, set in motion the creation of numerous Atlases dedicated to U.S. Elections, that continue to this day.”

Beyond research and students, Weichelt notes, Fred Shelley was a “diehard sports fanatic” who especially loved baseball and basketball. “His love for the Oklahoma Thunder was well known. I will never forget watching the 2001 World Series with him. We watched every game together of that historic series.”

Dr. Shelley is survived by his wife Arlene M. Shelley, their son Andrew P. Shelley (wife Lindsey; daughter Hartley Rundell), stepson Edward M Stapleton (wife Melanie; daughter Jenna; son Jackson), brother Larry Shelley (wife Julie Jensen; son David Shelley), and sister Anne Shelley (partner Michael Moffitt).   

 

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Karen Bakker

On August 14, 2023, geography lost a vital voice, Dr. Karen Bakker. She was a professor at the Department of Geography at University of British Columbia since 2002, having earned her Ph.D. at Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She leaves an astonishing record of achievement: as Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study 2022-3; as recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship 2022, a SSHRC Connection Award and Trudeau Fellowship in 2017; and as Stanford University’s Annenberg Fellow in Communication, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars. She is the author of more than 100 academic publications and seven books.

In 2005, she was recognized with the AAG Glenda Laws Award for her uncompromising commitment to advance understandings of the nature of governance, the significance of natural resources, and the importance of distributive justice in contemporary societies. She organized many panels and presentations at AAG meetings, particularly on the topic of water governance. She also supervised more than 30 graduate students and postdocs, secured funding for indigenous scholars in the department, and oversaw the work of scores of undergraduate students.

In recent years, Dr. Bakker brought her geographical fascinations with environmental perception and scientific world-making to the realm of sound. In The Sounds of Life (Princeton 2021), she builds a prismatic portrait of planetary ecology through the medium of chirps, buzzes, and low cetacean moans. The book garnered immediate critical acclaim, including from the very scientists it featured. It also reaches a broad public through her April 2023 TED Talk. Her next book, Gaia’s Web, (upcoming with MIT Press), explores how interconnected digital and natural networks will impact biodiversity conservation, environmental governance, and cultivate greater empathy for other species. Both books drew from her Smart Earth Project seeking to mobilize digital technologies to address some of the most pressing challenges of the Anthropocene.

Karen Bakker will be remembered too, for her fierce public engagement. She founded the Program on Water Governance at UBC, where she produced insightful analysis about the environmental, social and economic impacts of large dams like Site C and on a range of critical issues including water security, water privatization, Indigenous water sovereignty, and the human right to water. Research results from these studies have circulated widely in the media, and connected diverse academic, policy, and practitioner worlds.

At UBC, and in the community, Dr. Bakker was an outspoken advocate for equity issues, leading the pay equity process as the Chair of the Faculty Association Status of Women committee. She also frequently engaged local politicians on social and environmental issues of concern to the community — hosting meet-the-candidate nights and engaging in debate on key issues.

The faculty and staff of UBC has said, “We will remember Karen as multi-faceted and superbly talented in all realms. Writing, speaking, researching, or chatting about any topic imaginable, Karen always had interesting things to say and could offer incisive commentary and engaged banter — whether it be about cooking, gardening, stand up paddle boarding, or the local food cart scene in Vancouver. Indeed, alongside her academic pursuits she authored award winning books about feeding children healthful food under her nom de plume Karen Le Billon.”

Dr. Bakker was a committed mother, partner, and friend who transformed fields of knowledge related to water governance, neoliberal natures, and digital environmentalism. She also transformed those who worked alongside her. Her immense energy, passion, and intellect will be dearly missed. We join the UBC faculty in its statement, “We grieve together with her family, friends, and all the communities of which she was a part.”

This remembrance draws deeply from “Remembering Karen Bakker” on the University of British Columbia website, and is used with modifications and permissions from Dr. Bakker’s partner Phillip Le Billon.

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Donald J. Zeigler

An Exemplary Geography for Life Explorer

Don Zeigler’s colleague, Jonathan Leib, reports that Don knew at an early age that he wanted to be a geographer. While in high school he joined the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and was a member for the rest of his life. His career began with teaching high school geography for three years. After earning his Ph.D. in 1980 from Michigan State University, he became a professor in the Department of Political Science and Geography at Old Dominion University until he retired in 2016. He was department chair from 1990 to 1994.

In 1986, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Education, Don wrote a proposal to create the Virginia Geographic Alliance (VGA). He worked to secure funding from Gilbert Grosvenor, Chairman of the National Geographic Society (NGS) and Gerald Baliles, Governor of Virginia. He helped lead the VGA for more than 30 years and the organization continues to serve students, K-12 educators, and higher education faculty across Virginia.

Don was president of the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) in 1997. He was president of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geography student honor society in 2009 and 2010. During the 1990s he worked to create the Advanced Placement Human Geography (APHG) program. In addition to a term as Chief Reader, he led annual readings and conducted workshops, institutes, and travel seminars for high school teachers. Thanks to his consistent efforts APHG is offered in thousands of high schools across the United States.

The first National Standards in Geography in the United States, published in 1994, were aptly named “Geography for Life.” The title encompasses the profound meaning of places and environments in every human life and recognizes that each person is engaged in a lifetime adventure of meaning making through exploration, discovery.

Don was an exemplary “geography for life” explorer. Earth was his primary source of inquiry, his knowledge, analytic skills, and diverse perspectives. All his senses were on alert as he traveled widely and attentively across many time zones, cultural landscapes and physical environments. He developed a keen sense of place while immersed in unique places, always knowing that the places were all interacting in a complex web of global physical and cultural systems. He could skillfully trace and explain those multiple interactions.

Wherever he found himself, he was a keen observer of his surroundings. He saw details others missed or disregarded, he listened intently to other people and to sounds in the environment. He tasted and touched his way across many countries. In his mind he carried an extensive atlas of mental maps to draw upon when doing research or presentations. He developed his own geographic information system and personal navigation system before the widespread use of computer-based GIS and GPS. Don had an extensive repertoire of five-minute lectures through which he explained complex concepts in simple terms or provided a detailed description of a landscape he had experienced.

Although we may be sometimes alone in our explorations, we are also embedded in communities in particular times and specific places. We need geographic knowledge, skills, and perspectives to inform us as we journey together seeking our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our life companions.

Geography is for life and for a lifetime. Don embraced this perspective and lived it out in several professional and personal communities. He invested many years serving and leading geography organizations. Examples include, Gamma Theta Epsilon, 53 years; Association of American Geographers, over 50 years; National Council for Geographic Education, over 50 years; Old Dominion University, 36 years; Virginia Geographic Alliance, 36 years; and Advanced Placement Human Geography, over 20 years.

Don received numerous well-deserved state and national awards for research, teaching, and service. Among the major honors he earned are a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award in 2006, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education in 2009, the inaugural AAG Harm J. de Blij Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Geography Teaching in 2016, and NCGE George J. Miller Award for Distinguished Service in 2017.

During his career, Don taught more than 50 different courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. They included large lecture sections, graduate research seminars, foreign area field studies, transects across Virginia for teachers, world geography and history webinars, and televised courses for students, teachers, and the public. Additionally, he served as Fellow at the American Centers of Oriental Research, Amman, Jordan in 2001, Fulbright-Hays Scholar, Morocco, in 1989, Visiting Scholar, Aleppo University, Aleppo, Syria in 1993.

In his personal and professional life, Don offered no negative judgments of others, praised generously, criticized sparingly, and seldom complained. He always offered others support, encouragement and compassion. As he spent his life exploring Earth’s diverse and constantly changing environments, I am certain that along with his backpack, he carried an attitude of gratitude at every latitude.

Don Zeigler inspired us with his unfailing humility, grace, and enthusiasm for the next exploration. As “geography for life” explorers, let’s follow his example.


Submitted by Robert W. Morrill, Professor Emeritus, Geography, Virginia Tech

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Dennis James Dingemans

Dennis James Dingemans was born and grew up in rural southern Minnesota, graduating from Albert Lea High School. He received his B.A. in History from the University of Chicago and then drove his 1949 Cadillac to San Francisco.

In 1968, Dennis was part of a diverse cohort accepted into the geography graduate program at the University of California Berkeley. Carl Sauer enjoyed Dennis’s stories about his Dutch immigrant father and growing up in Midwestern farming country, yet Dennis was attracted to the urban geography and planning courses at UCB. He became an advisee of Jay Vance. His dissertation (1975) was a study of how the morphology of the East Bay suburbs was being changed by the spread of townhouses, a house type from the central city. In short, his work focused on a piece of Vance’s model of a “city of realms.”  In addition to supping at Vance’s table of urban and transportation geography, Dennis also found his ideas shaped by Professors Glacken, Hooson, Luten, Parsons, Pred, and (in planning) Webber. A summer study tour to Yugoslavia reinforced an interest in the geography of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Dennis spent his professional career (1972-2005) at the University of California Davis. He taught topical courses on urban and economic geography, regional courses on Eastern Europe, China, and the world, and techniques courses on quantitative methods and urban field geography.  He won teaching awards from the UCD Academic Senate and the National Council for Geographic Education, and his lively lectures sprinkled with humor and bon mots were popular. He taught freshman seminars on Davis, the Bay Area, and Northern California, incorporating field experiences and works of both nonfiction and fiction, a favorite being Ecotopia.

Dennis’s research included work on townhouses, land use controls, redlining, defensible space, billboards, gasoline purchasing behavior, and (with his wife and fellow geographer Robin Datel) historic preservation and ethnic and immigrant geographies in American cities. The latter interest emerged from supervising the dissertation of his advisee Susan Hardwick on patterns of Russian settlement in the Sacramento region. Field inventories and cultural landscape slides were hallmarks of Dennis’s engaging scholarship. Dennis did a lot of university service, recognizing it as an important way to grow awareness and understanding of geography on campus. He served on and chaired numerous college and academic senate committees. He was a popular adviser for several programs in addition to Geography—International Relations, Community Development, and Environmental Planning and Management.

The Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, the AAG’s westernmost division, was Dennis’s favorite professional organization for fostering and enjoying the discipline that shaped his life. He gave 22 papers at annual meetings stretching across five decades. He served on many committees, co-organized the 1987 annual meeting, led field trips, mentored student participants, co-edited the APCG Yearbook, and was vice-president and president of the association.

Dennis lived an important life of service outside academic circles. He served on the City of Davis Design Review Commission and Planning Commission, as well as other city-appointed committees related to housing and economic development.  He worked for or against numerous local ballot measures related to planning, housing, open space, transportation, and energy issues. For a decade he served as Director of the Hattie Weber Museum of Davis, the local history museum, creating space for visitors to share their own stories. Dennis led the museum’s long and successful campaign to preserve Davis’s only WPA-financed building. He guided field excursions under the auspices of the Yolo County Historical Society, providing geographical perspectives on local people and places.

In addition to Dennis’s contributions to geography via his research, teaching, and service, his interest in the discipline was shared with his two sons. Theodore, a paleoecologist, earned a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Nevada Reno and Franklin, a data engineer, obtained a B.A. in Geography from UC Berkeley.

Submitted with permission by Robin E. Datel and the Davis Enterprise

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Harrison Campbell, Jr.

Harrison Sherwood Campbell, Jr., who lived a thoughtful, love-filled life, now rests at peace, passing away at age 60 on Saturday, October 8, 2022.

Harry, as he was known by his family, friends, and colleagues, was born on February 25, 1962, in Encino, California. He spent his formative years in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and graduated from Wellesley High School in 1980, where he lettered in baseball all four years and played clarinet in the concert band and orchestra. Left to cherish his memory are his loving wife, Terry Albanese, his stepsons, Jacob and Benjamin Gefell, his brothers, Alan (Marcia) Campbell and Drew (Karen) Campbell, sister-in-law, Connie Lappa, and nieces and nephews, Katharine and Elizabeth Campbell, Colin and Megan Campbell, and Peter and Joseph Campbell. Harry was predeceased by his first wife, Jama Mooney, his father, Harrison Sherwood Campbell, Sr., his mother, Joyce Campbell, and his brother Bruce (Connie) Campbell.

Harry received a B.A. in Economics and Geography (1985) from Clark University and an M.A. in Geography (1987) and Ph.D. in Geography (1994) from the University of Illinois. As an economic geographer at UNC Charlotte for nearly 25 years, Harry was focused on understanding the nature of place, and, more importantly, communicating what he learned to his community, students, and colleagues. In addition to his often pathbreaking scholarship, his partnership with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce to project local economic growth helped to shape modern Charlotte. In this partnership, Harry was author of Charlotte’s Business Growth Index for many years. As an administrator, he played a significant role in developing new degree programs in Geography, Public Policy, and Environmental Sciences. Harry’s most significant professional accomplishment was, by far, the contributions he made to students and colleagues.

Always generous with his time, and unfailingly supportive, Harry impacted the lives of thousands via his teaching, mentoring, and friendship.

Above all, family and friendship were most important to Harry. He adored his wife and embraced his stepsons with open arms and incomparable generosity, always looking forward to holidays and extended visits with the only kids he had. He went to lunch with neighbors and stayed connected with friends across the country and globe. He loved to banter about baseball with his brothers, always kept up with his nieces and nephews, and wrote notes to his mother that she described as “the sweetest ever.” Harry was a man of meaningful relationships.

Harrison Campbell with mountains in backgroundAlso an adventurer, Harry enjoyed traveling the world. He explored Indonesia, swam the oceans of Nicaragua, walked the streets of Buenos Aires, hiked the mountains of Argentina, and explored the high desert plains of Colorado. He visited many national parks, here and abroad, sharing a love of nature and the outdoors with his wife and best friend, Terry. He sought to learn about these places and was an active observer and researcher, never forfeiting a chance to gain insight or perspective about how our planet and its people work.

At home he enjoyed quiet mornings sipping coffee on the porch, watching birds at the feeder, and laughing at the Sunday comics. As much bad news as there was around, Harry always made space for jokes; there was always room to squeeze in a zinger.

Baseball was a special pastime for Harry. Whether watching from home or going to minor league or professional games — counting strikes and hoping for homeruns never got old. One of his favorite pastimes was going to Charlotte Knights games with his good friend and colleague, Bill Graves.

Husband, brother, son, stepfather, friend, professor, traveler, thinker, enjoyer-of-life, Harry brought smiles to our world, and he will be missed dearly by many.


Published with permission from Terry Albanese.

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Richard L. Forstall

Richard L. Forstall died on May 30, 2023, while in palliative care at Goodwin House for heart disease since March. His passing was sudden and peaceful with family present. He was born October 8, 1926, in Chicago, the son of James Jackson Forstall and Nellie Louise (Lothrop) Forstall. He lived in Alexandria for 48 years. He is preceded in death by his parents and also his siblings, Jackson L. Forstall, Philip L. Forstall, and Jean (Forstall) Peneff, and survived by nieces Marilyn J. Peneff, Anne (Peneff) Albert, nephew Nicholas J. Peneff, and many cousins.

Mr. Forstall’s achievements include the development of official standards for defining United States metropolitan areas for the U.S. Census Bureau from 1972 -1995 based on extended work for Rand McNally & Co. since 1951.

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Wakefield Dort

Wakefield Dort, Jr. was born on July 16, 1923, in Keene, NH, the son of Wakefield Dort, Sr. and Elizabeth (Edwards) Dort. He died peacefully in his home on Saturday, May 13, 2023 in Lawrence, KS.

He is survived by his son, Christopher Dort, his wife Missie, and two granddaughters, Brianne Dort and Erin Havrilak, her husband, Cody.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Doris Virginia Stage Dort.

Wake obtained his bachelor’s degree in geology from Harvard in 1944, went on to California Institute of Technology for a masters in 1948, and doctorate from Stanford 1955. Between his bachelors and masters, he served in the U.S. Marines as a second lieutenant in the Engineer Battalion of the First Marine Division and saw action on Peleliu (Palau Islands) in the South Pacific. His first teaching experience was as an Instructor in Mathematics in the Marine Corps schools in North Carolina.

After discharge from the Marines, he taught at Duke (1948-50) and Pennsylvania State (1952-57) universities prior to joining the faculty at University of Kansas (KU)  as an associate professor and was promoted to professor in 1970. In addition to his teaching, he supervised nine doctoral students (including two in geography and two in special studies) and 24 masters in his time on the faculty.

Arriving at KU in the fall of 1957 as an associate professor, Dort took up teaching his specialty courses of geomorphology and Quaternary geology. In addition, for three and half decades he also taught a variety of courses including Physical Geology, History of the Earth, Geology for Engineers, and Environmental Geology. He was the geomorphologist at The University of Kansas and many, if not all, the geology majors were introduced to his subjects in their time at KU.

He worked in Idaho for a quarter of a century studying alpine glaciers in the Lemhi Mountains, northwest of Idaho Falls. He also was drawn to the Antarctica where he could study the modern glaciers. After retirement he researched the geomorphology of the Great Plains and the river systems, especially in the Kansas River. He has published extensively on Pleistocene geology and geomorphology of Kansas, described some of the archeological sites in the state, and published on the Pleistocene and recent environments of the central Great Plains with the effects of climate change. He has conducted field trips for various groups in Kansas and Nebraska. In addition to his studies in Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska, another interest has been in the geomorphology of Antarctica.

Wake was active in several organizations and is a Fellow of the AAAS and the Geological Society of America and a member of the American Geographical Society, Association of American Geographers, Society of American Archeologists, and Sigma Xi. He was a member of the Executive Committee & Education for the Institute of Tertiary-Quaternary Studied, honorary lecturer for the Mid-American University Association, Research Associate at Idaho Museum of Natural History, member of the American Geological Institute’s Visual Education Committee and Earth science Curriculum Project, and a member of the U.S. Antarctic Expeditions in 1965, 1966, and 1969.

Wake retired with emeritus status in 1993, from teaching but continued his research. One of the results being an in-depth study of the changes in the course of the Kansas River through time. The results of his investigation were published as an American Geographical Society Special Publication in 2009.

The family would like to thank Ascend Hospice and Home Instead for their care and compassion. Without these loving professionals, Wakes wish to remain in his home until death could not have happened. A special thank you for Justine who cared for Wake for over 6 years and became a trusted friend and extended family member.


Originally published by Warren-McElwain Mortuary Lawrence Chapel and reprinted with permission.

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Charles Earl “Chuck” Bussing

Charles Earl “Chuck” Bussing passed away surrounded by his family at the age of 90 on April 19, 2023.

Chuck was born in Del Norte, Colorado, on October 30, 1932. He graduated high school in Fredrick Colorado in 1950, completed his B.A. in Geography from University of Northern Colorado in 1958, M.A. in Geography from University of Colorado in 1961, and his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Nebraska in 1964. He taught at the Kansas State University (KSU) from 1964 to 1998. He did a sabbatical at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 1970.

During his career at KSU, he had many distinguished accomplishments including mentoring a great group of Ph.D. students who went on to have illustrious careers in their own right. Some of his more notable accomplishments were being on faculty senate for four terms, chair of the faculty salary and fringe benefit subcommittee, chair of the International Studies Committee, director of International Programs, and program associate for the International Title XII Strengthening Grant from 1979-1990.

Chuck was one who loved to get together and be a part of, and a leader of groups that talked about important topics. In service of that, he was the organizer for seven conferences sponsored by the American Association of Geographers, the Tri-University Center for Latin American Studies, International Studies, and the Farming Systems Research Group.

Chuck spent his life gathering experiences, stories, information, friends — I don’t say acquaintances, because acquaintances always became friends — and especially friends who have that twinkle of playfulness and inquisitiveness. Titles didn’t matter, money didn’t matter, what really mattered was his passion for learning and collaborating/conspiring to enjoy a good story and learn more.

Chuck is survived by his loving wife Sandy, his daughter Heather (John) and her boys Alex and Holden, and his son Greg (Tracy) and his sons Austin (Caroline), Anderson, and Avery (Sarah). He was pre-deceased by his parents, Warren and Mildred Bussing and his brother Dick Bussing.


Originally published by Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home and reprinted with permission.

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William “Bill” Koelsch

William “Bill” Koelsch, 89, professor emeritus of geography, retired University historian, and a longtime activist for LBGTQ rights, died on Nov. 5, 2022.

Koelsch, who established the modern Clark Archives, was well known on campus as the author of the highly regarded “Clark University, 1887-1987: A Narrative History,” a chronicle of Clark’s first 100 years, researched and written over five years and published to coincide with the University’s centennial celebration in 1987. The volume graces bookshelves across campus and remains an invaluable repository of Clark’s early history.

In a 2012 story in Clark magazine, Koelsch recalled that he convinced then-President Mortimer Appley to grant him some time off from teaching to craft the book, which he insisted would be a robust, accurate, and honest accounting of Clark’s past.

“Non-Clark people are more interested in the University’s early years, and Clark people tend not to know about them,” he said. “I tried to get the record reasonably straight about those years. It wasn’t a public relations piece — I attempted to call the shots as I saw them.”

Photo of William Koelsch in the stacks of Goddard Library at Clark University
William Koelsch in the stacks of Goddard Library, Clark University

Koelsch scoured the academic landscape for sources. According to the story, in the 1970s, he’d crossed the country looking for original manuscripts related to early Clark, conducted interviews with former faculty and administrators, and culled from the unpublished memoirs of former presidents Howard Jefferson and Appley.

“By the time I wrote, I was in a secure position against anyone who might want to squawk about something,” he remembered. “I can defend every sentence using the backup material.”

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University (1955), a master’s from Clark (1959), and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1966), and served several years in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. He joined Clark as an assistant professor of geography in 1967 and later became a tenured professor known for his incisiveness, erudition, and wit.

“Bill was my first adviser when I entered Clark. He was a walking encyclopedia, but not in an intimidating manner,” recalled Jeremy Tasch, Ph.D. ’06, professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning at Towson University. “My classmates and I valued his long list of chronological reference lists he shared in his class on the history of geographic thought — he introduced all of us to Clarence Glacken. Because of Bill, I went into Cambridge to find ‘Traces on the Rhodian Shore’ — we weren’t using Amazon in those days. He was kind and gracious, quietly knowledgeable, and ready to give his time.”

Clark Geography Professor Rinku Roy Chowdhury told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that when she was pursuing her doctorate at Clark, she took a course with Professor Koelsch, who created a “welcoming and fun space in a really, really intense Ph.D. program and department,” allowing the students to “establish rapport and camaraderie, not just with the professor, but with each other.”

Koelsch, who retired in 1998, moved to San Diego, where he wrote more than 20 scholarly articles and essays, including articles about G. Stanley Hall and about the influence that Jonas Clark’s strong abolitionist beliefs had on the formation of Clark University. His book “Geography and the Classical World: Unearthing Historical Geography’s Forgotten Past” was published in 2012.

He also crafted many longhand, meticulously worded letters to friends and Clark associates over the years, often alerting them to his latest work or to approaching Clark-related milestones.

Koelsch made a memorable return to Clark in 2019 to speak at the invitation of the late Professor Robert Tobin, who had organized an exhibition titled “Queering Clark.” The retired professor recounted his personal experience as a member of the “silent generation” of gay men who came out later in life, recalling that he wrote columns for Boston’s Gay Community News under the pseudonym “A. Nolder Gay.”

In 1975, Koelsch began teaching a course at Clark on the gay liberation movement. In 1982, when the HIV/AIDS crisis was dawning, he incorporated information on the disease into the syllabus of his course Health and Disease in the American Habitat and spoke about HIV/AIDS to church groups.

In his return visit, Koelsch cited reasons for optimism about the future of gay rights in the U.S., noting with satisfaction that same-sex couples can now marry and an openly gay soldier can serve in the U.S. military. “I never expected to see either of those things in my lifetime,” he marveled.

Koelsch’s papers regarding his activism are in the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. An oral history of his Army service is online at the Library of Congress.

He is survived by his partner of over 50 years, William Dennison.


Provided by Jim Keogh, Clark University.

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Gerry A. Hale

Gerry Hale, a long-time, much-loved professor in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, died on October 14, 2022.

Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, Gerry (pronounced “Gary”) was raised in the neighboring city of Glendale. He attended UCLA as both an undergraduate and graduate student. In the early 1960s, while conducting fieldwork in Sudan, Gerry served as the Head Geography Master at Unity High School for Girls in Khartoum and as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Khartoum. Before and after his time in Sudan, he also taught at the University of Southern California. In 1966, working under the direction of Dr. Joseph Spencer, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation on agricultural terracing in Sudan’s Darfur region. Soon thereafter, he joined the UCLA Department of Geography as a tenure-track faculty member.

A political and cultural geographer, Gerry’s teaching and research focused on technology, nationalism, the state, cultural hegemony, capitalism, anti-colonialism and empire, and Marxist geography. His regional specializations were in North Africa, the Middle East, and California.

Photo of Sondra and Gerry Hale in their house in Hai el-Matar, Khartoum, Sudan, 1961.Photographer: unknown.
Sondra and Gerry Hale in their house in Hai el-Matar, Khartoum, Sudan, 1961. Photographer: unknown.

A combination of factors—ranging from witnessing pervasive racial injustice in Glendale and exposure to the early years of postcolonial life in Lebanon (where he studied as a M.A. student) and in Africa, to the horrors of the U.S. war in Vietnam—radicalized Gerry. By the late 1960s, he saw himself as Marxist—politically as well as intellectually.

Consistent with his politics—a combination of democratic socialism, feminism, and anti-racism—Gerry was involved in Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography from its initial days. As the journal’s structure became more formalized, he served on the editorial board from 1978 to 1985.

Gerry’s politics also underlay his intense dedication to students. He was the advisor to approximately a dozen Ph.D. students who went on to academic careers, and to scores of Master’s students—in Geography as well as in the African Studies M.A. Program, for which he served as director for some years, and in the Center for Near Eastern Studies. He was also the Department of Geography’s undergraduate and graduate advisor during the 1990s. In these roles Gerry was known to be a strong supporter of women faculty and students.

Because of his politics, life at UCLA in Gerry’s earlier years as a faculty member were often difficult given the strongly conservative ethos that permeated the institution. Changing times and, more importantly, Gerry’s generous spirit, ethical character, collegiality, and dedication as a teacher of undergraduate and graduates alike eventually won over most, if not all, of his detractors. By the time of his retirement circa 1997, Gerry was a highly valued and universally appreciated citizen of the Department and the University as a whole; he was a member of some of the most prestigious bodies on campus, such as the Committee on Privilege and Tenure.

A strong sense of justice motivated much of what Gerry Hale did as a geographer. Many of those who were fortunate enough to take an undergraduate course with him, for example, learned about what happened to the predominately working class and Mexican-descended community of Chavez Ravine. Beginning in 1951, the City of Los Angeles used eminent domain to expel the area’s residents and raze their homes—in the name of public housing which never arrived. Instead, years later, the city sold the land to the Los Angeles Dodgers to build a baseball stadium.

As one former student, now a historian, recalled in relation to Gerry’s telling of the story, “When I was growing up in Echo Park (a Los Angeles neighborhood), I didn’t know this history. I don’t think most people know it today. I learned it once I got to UCLA, in a geography class with Gerry Hale. He was not even a Chicano, but a white man who engaged in a one-man boycott of Dodger Stadium, having made a personal commitment to never go to ballgames because of what had happened on the land on which Dodger Stadium sits.”

Gerry Hale is survived by his longtime partner, Sondra Hale, professor emeritus of Anthropology and Gender Studies at UCLA, and their daughters, Alexa and Adrienne, as well as by countless others whose lives he touched.


Provided by Garth Myers (Trinity College) and Joseph Nevins (Vassar College).

 

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