H. Gardiner Barnum

1934 - 2014

H. Gardiner Barnum, Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Vermont, passed away on June 11, 2014, aged 80, after an extended illness.

“Gar,” as he was known to friends and colleagues, was born in 1934 in New London, Connecticut. He received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Middlebury College, then a master’s degree (1961) and doctorate (1965) both in Geography from the University of Chicago.

His academic career was spent at the University of Vermont. He was a faculty member of the Department of Geography for 37 years from 1965 until retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2002. He was among a core group of people in the mid-60s who worked to establish geography as both a program and department at the university.

Barnum taught courses on regional geography to hundreds of students and was the department’s specialist on the geography and historical geography of Europe, drawing on his experiences living and traveling the continent.

His research interests focused on the interpretation of place names and he was a master of the importance of names in tracing the history, development, and culture of a given region, street, or town. One of his last projects was a book on place names on Vermont’s Long Trail.

Barnum became a member of the Association of American Geographers in 1961 and received his commendation for 50 years of continuous membership in 2011. He was also a member of the American Geographical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Name Society, the Canadian Society for the Study of Names, and Sigma Xi.

Gar will be missed by his former students and colleagues alike. He was dedicated to his students and generous with his colleagues. Although he was a quiet man, he had a wonderful sense of humor. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Erika, their children Susan, Sarah and Samuel, and six grandchildren.