Gary Gaile

1946 - 2009

Gary Gaile, professor of geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder, died on February 13, 2009 at the age of 63. He first came to the school as a visiting faculty member in 1984. Gaile served as Chair of the department from 1999 to 2002. In 2001, he founded the Developing Areas Research and Teaching (DART) program, and remained the program’s executive director until his death.

Gaile earned all of his degrees in the geography department at UCLA (BA 1971, MA 1972, PhD 1976) and remained a steadfast supporter of his alma mater throughout his career. His PhD advisor was W.A.C. Clark, and his dissertation won the Regional Science Association’s Doctoral Dissertation Award in 1977.

Gaile taught geography at Northwestern University from 1975 to 1982. The demise of that department influenced him greatly and contributed to his commitment to the institutional success of geography as a discipline and to his enthusiastic support for the AAG. After leaving Northwestern, Gaile spent two years at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. He also held visiting appointments at Harvard Institute for International Development, Cambridge University, the London School of Economics, and Oxford University.

Gaile’s early career focused on the modeling and analysis of spatial patterns of economic growth and development. In 1984, he published Spatial Statistics and Models with long-time collaborator Cort Willmott. This was followed in 1988 by a handbook, Spatial Diffusion, written with Richard Morrill and Grant Thrall. His research was widely published in many well-known academic journals.

Since 2001, Gaile had served as editor of Urban Affairs Review. He and Willmott continued their collaboration with the publication in 1989 of Geography in America. A revised and expanded edition published in 2003, Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century, has become recognized as the definitive text on the state of the art in research across the vast array of geographic subfields. These books are perhaps Gaile’s most significant contribution to the discipline and reflect his wellknown dedication to the advancement of all fields within geography.

Gaile had a long history of fieldwork in East Africa, particularly Kenya, where he was deeply involved in poverty reduction and food security projects. Blessed with an irreverent wit and an engaging personality, Gaile was known for bringing humor and humanity to all of his undertakings. A dedicated teacher, he won the Distinguished Teaching Award at Northwestern University in 1981, and his courses at Colorado were always among the most highly rated at the University.

Gary Gaile (Necrology). 2009. AAG Newsletter 44(4): 16.