J. Ronald Eyton

1942 - 2022

Photo of J Ronald Eyton

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our faculty colleague, Ron Eyton, on March 14, 2022. His death, in a hospital in Vancouver, BC, following a sudden illness was unexpected.

Ron was raised in Atikokan near present Thunder Bay, Ontario. Ron’s father was a chemist at a local iron mine and helped Ron develop his life-long love of experimentation, photography, and cartography. Summer jobs in and around the mines convinced Ron to pursue a career in academic cartography. In a span of 10 years, Ron completed degrees from Rochester Institute of Technology (AAS photographic science), the University of North Dakota (PhB, MS physical geography and geology), and the University of Illinois (PhD physical geography and photogrammetry). Ron’s dissertation fitting first-degree trend surfaces to the flood plain and two terrace surfaces along a section of the Ohio River to determine if the terraces were of fluvial or lacustrine origin was published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin.

In the 10 years following his doctorate, Ron held a variety of academic appointments at the Assistant (University of Illinois, University of South Carolina) and Associate (Penn State University, University of Alberta) Professor level. He was promoted to Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Alberta, however an institutional reorganization brought Ron to Texas State University in the Fall of 1995.

Ron was an important member of the Geography team which resulted in the Department of Geography being awarded the first doctoral program at Texas State University. Two sabbatical opportunities in his career resulted in visiting positions at the University of New South Wales and the University of Pittsburgh Semester at Sea program.

Ron Eyton with his self-built, stereographic multi-spectral camera system photographing flood damage on the Guadalupe River in 2002
Ron Eyton with his self-built, stereographic multi-spectral camera system photographing flood damage on the Guadalupe River in 2002.

At the time of his retirement in 2006, Ron had supervised 10 doctoral and almost 30 master’s students along with serving as a member of numerous doctoral and master’s research advisory committees. Ron was best known to his students for his classes in cartography visualization and remote sensing. Ron wrote most of the analysis software used in these classes and freely shared his code with students. His photography hobby was used in the classroom as his students were encouraged to fly with him for garnering aerial photography, and use his digital multiband camera systems to acquire and process their own data. His most popular class was “Digital Remote Sensing and Terrain Modeling” which he offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Ron was committed to sharing the work of he and his students, publishing over 50 papers, and making over 30 professional presentations, many with his students as co-authors. Ron was in demand to share his expertise at invited lectures as well, making 46 presentations on digital terrain modeling and raster data processing to government and private sector groups in the US, Canada, and Australia. He also served as an instructor in short courses at annual meetings of the American Association of Geographers and the National Council on Geographic Education. His expertise and commitment to sharing was recognized with teaching and service awards at the local level as well as from the Canadian Institute of Geomatics and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

Retirement did not slow Ron. Accompanied by his spouse Lynne they traveled throughout the US and Canada, wherever Amtrak or VIA Rail would take them. After brief stops in southwest Minnesota and eastern Washington state , they finally settled in Pemberton in the Sea to Sky country of Western British Columbia. We will all miss their annual Christmas calendar illustrated with images of their many travels. All of us send our best wishes to Lynne and their children Ben and Tammy. Our memory of Ron will always include a short sleeve white shirt, khaki shorts, and if outside, a white Tilley hat.

— Prepared by Richard W. Dixon and David R. Butler, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Texas State University