Richard J. Houk

1922 - 2012

Richard J. Houk, aged 90, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at DePaul University in Chicago, died on February 18, 2012.

Houk was the longest serving faculty member in the history of DePaul University. He joined DePaul in 1946 and continued teaching until 2010. He founded the Department of Geography in 1949, and established the DePaul Geographical Society as a student club in 1961. Houk served as a mentor and inspired countless students and faculty members.

In 1941, Houk received his B.A. in geography from Indiana University, and in 1950 earned a Ph.D. in geography from Northwestern University, writing his dissertation on “The Portuguese Maritime Fishing Industry.” A veteran of the Second World War, because of his ability to speak Spanish and Portuguese, he was selected for duty with the Weather Service at a secret air base in the Azores in 1944.

During his long career Dr. Houk received many awards, honors, and recognitions. In 1963 he was awarded the decoration of Caballero del Orden de Merito Civil by the Spanish Government in recognition of years of unique efforts to increase and improve good relations between the U.S. and Spain. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and in 1967 and in 1968 he lived in Portugal and studied its agricultural industry. A veteran traveler, over his lifetime he visited over one-hundred countries on six continents and led tour groups to many of these. His signature course was “The Iberian Impact: Spain and Portugal.” The photo at left shows Houk teaching at DePaul University during the 1967-68 academic year.

Richard J. Houk (Necrology). 2012. AAG Newsletter 47(5): 20.