Leslie Curry

1923 - 2009

Leslie Curry, Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Toronto, died on January 12, 2009, at the age of 86.

Curry was born and raised in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. He volunteered for the Royal Navy at age 18 and joined the 14th Destroyer Flotilla as a radar mechanic during World War II. Following the war, Curry graduated from Kings College at the University of Durham. In 1951, he received a master’s degree in geography from Johns Hopkins University while a Fulbright Scholar. He worked as an economist at the United Nations and then at Charles Warren Thornthwaite’s Laboratory of Climatology in Seabrook, New Jersey. Curry received his doctorate in geography from the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 1959 and later taught at the University of Washington, the University of Maryland, and Arizona State University before moving to the University of Toronto, where he spent 21 years before retiring in 1985.

As a theoretician, Les Curry was a modeler, using stochastic analysis to delve deeply into processes, especially economic, that produce the patterns and flows across the globe. One of his early papers showed that natural climatic change could occur as the result of random exchanges involving heat storage in the oceans, while another early paper treated central places in terms of inventory management and stochastic processes.

Curry received the Canadian Association of Geographers Award for Scholarly Distinction in 1977. Other honors included a Visiting Commonwealth Professorship in the U.S., a Guggenheim Fellowship at Cambridge University, an inaugural Connaught Senior Fellowship in the Social Sciences, a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study Center in Bellagio, a fellowship at the Australian National University, a citation for Meritorious Contributions from the Association of American Geographers, and the International Geographical Union’s prestigious Lauréat d’Honneur.

Author of the book, The Random Spatial Economy and Its Evolution (1998), Curry was featured in Geographical Voices (2002), an anthology of autobiographical essays by 14 eminent geographers, edited by Peter Gould and Forrest Pitts.
A celebration of Les Curry’s life will be held at the Faculty Club, University of Toronto, on Monday, April 20, 2009. If you would like to attend, please contact Andrew Malcolm at UTAGA@geog.utoronto.ca.

Leslie Curry (Necrology). 2009. AAG Newsletter 44(3): 27.