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November-December 2010

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In Memoriam

J. Thomas “Tom” Dutro Jr.Tom Dutro was born on 20 May 1923, in Columbus, Ohio, and was raised in Marysville, Ohio. He entered Oberlin College in 1940, but World War II cut short his college studies. In the winter of 1942–43 the U.S. Army Air Forces trained him in meteorology at Denison University. Tom spent the rest of his Army career in western Greenland as a weatherman concerned with North Atlantic shipping and the transporting of airplanes to Britain. The Germans had meteorological stations in eastern Greenland, and Tom had some wonderful stories about dueling weather stations. He had great admiration for the lady pilots who ferried airplanes from Canada and the United States to Britain. It seems likely that the U.S.'s Greenland weather station provided information that made the D-Day invasion possible on 6 June 1944. Tom was discharged and returned home in early 1946.

In the fall of 1946 Tom was back at Oberlin, where he met Nancy Pence, and they formed a lifelong partnership in January 1948. Tom and Nancy were graduated in 1948, but Tom always regarded himself as a member of the Class of 1945. The Dutros then went to Yale University where Tom received his PhD in geology in 1953. Tom and Nancy raised a family of three, Sarah, Christopher, and Susan. In 1993 Tom received an honorary doctor of science degree from Denison University.

Tom began working part-time for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the summer of 1948 in the Potash Project, Carlsbad, New Mexico. There's a wonderful tale here about not having quite enough money to go by bus to Carlsbad and having to hitchhike part of the way. While at Yale, Tom received a career appointment with the USGS in the Navy Oil Program in northern Alaska from 1949–56. This Alaska connection led to at least thirty summers of field work in Alaska, resulting in many publications on the Paleozoic faunas and biostratigraphic correlations, and he was part of a team that produced six 1:250,000 geologic maps, mostly of the Brooks Range. Tom had an uncanny mind for stratigraphy and never forgot a stratigraphic section that he saw or read about. When you went with Tom to an outcrop that he had seen years before, he could recite the whole litany of what the rocks were telling you.

In 1956 Tom became part of Preston Cloud's “flock” when he joined the USGS Paleontology and Stratigraphy Branch (P&S) at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Tom was the P&S specialist in Paleozoic brachiopods and their usefulness in biostratigraphic correlation and providing ground truth for geologic mapping. He worked closely with G. A. Cooper (“Coop”) and R. E. Grant, the brachiopodologists of the NMNH. Tom applied this knowledge in Alaska, throughout the western United States, in the Appalachians, and most recently, in East Asia and the western Pacific Rim. In addition to his scientific work, his administrative jobs for the USGS included service as P&S Branch chief (1962–68), member of the geology panel of the Board of Civil Service Examiners (1958–65), and service on the Geologic Names Committee (1962–83).

Away from the USGS and NMNH, he participated in a number of international congresses and served on commissions whose purposes were to establish worldwide stratigraphic standards for the Carboniferous and Permian systems. Tom served as secretary-treasurer of the American Geological Institute; associate editor of the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America; chair of the Geological Society's History of Geology Division; president, and executive committee member of the Pacific Division, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); president of the Association of Earth Science Editors; and president of the Paleontological Research Institution.

Tom was an active member of the Cosmos Club and served on several of its committees. A favorite committee was the one that organized the annual chess tournament between the members of the club and the youth of the District of Columbia—the youths were often the better competitors. He was an active member of the Geological Society of Washington (GSW), which holds its meetings in the John Wesley Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club. Tom was president of GSW and received the Sleeping Bear Award.

Tom starred in a number of the USGS's “Pick and Hammer” shows. These were always musicals that spoofed the USGS upper-level management. He, Jean Berdan, Frank Whitmore, Mac Gordon, and others often chose the music and wrote the words to songs adapted from various Broadway shows. Tom had a good singing voice and could do a mean softshoe. Alas, the troops at the USGS now have given up doing shows.

Following Tom's retirement from the P&S Branch in 1994, he stayed active as a research associate of the NMNH and scientist emeritus of the USGS. He continued to husband the extensive brachiopod collections at the NMNH, mentor students who came to use the collections, and work on his biostratigraphic studies. He also continued as the paleontology editor of Rocks & Minerals.

Tom became a foremost authority on late Paleozoic brachiopods and biostratigraphy. Among his more than two hundred published papers and maps, there are many beautiful examples of how systematic work in paleontology meshes with and critically informs the world of geology. His careful work is well known for its identification of new taxa, clarification of established genera and species, and application of systematic paleontology to projects such as geologic mapping, assessing the validity of exotic terranes, and correlating economically important formations. As examples, Tom has been involved in paleobiogeographic syntheses using large early Carboniferous productoid brachiopods from the tectonic fragments in western North America; studies of Permian brachiopod faunas from northern Alaska; biostratigraphic syntheses of tectonic basins in eleven countries in east Asia, from Japan south to Papua New Guinea; regional geologic studies in Washington State, West Virginia, and the Ozarks; and analyses of Carboniferous brachiopods from northern Chile, northwest Argentina, and Peru.

Tom received the U.S. Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award in 1983 and the Distinguished Service Award in 1996. In 2006 he received the G. D. Harris Award from the Paleontological Research Institution for his paleontological and statigraphic work across the United States. The J. Thomas Dutro Jr. Award for Excellence in the Geosciences is presented annually by the Pacific Division of the AAAS to a student whose presentation is judged to be most significant in the advancement or understanding of geosciences.

Tom's long association with the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) began when he joined the PRI Board of Trustees. He served as president from 1992 to 1994. He and Nancy edited many of the recent numbers of the PRI's Bulletins of American Paleontology, the oldest continuously published journal for paleontology in North America.

Another side of Tom was his great interest in all sports—baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and soccer. You name the sport and Tom knew what was currently happening in it. Although he played as a back in high school football, his greatest enjoyment was playing golf. In 2008, at age eight-five, he achieved a personal goal. His score card for 12 January 2008 reads: “Tom Shoots His Age”; the score of 85 is circled and marked with exclamation points.

On personal notes, Tom hired me in 1963 and gave me a career with the USGS at the NMNH; we were friends for a very long time. For many years of the past three decades we regularly had lunch together exploring restaurants and eateries within walking distance of the museum. At the museum, we belonged to various morning/afternoon coffee klatches with folks who are no longer there. At these lunches and klatches we discussed everything from science and children to USGS and NMNH politics. I depended a lot on Tom's gentle approach to events and problems. He was very generous with his time and reviewed, edited, and improved many of my manuscripts beginning with my thesis that was published in 1966. Tom died on 13 June 2010 at age 87; I miss this gentle man.


Chip ClarkChip Clark began photographing the exhibits and behind-the-scenes activities at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History thirty-seven years ago. Since then, his range of interests and subject matter greatly expanded to include the museum's collections and treasures, laboratories, scientists, research projects, and scientific expeditions around the world.

Chip's interest in science and photography started much earlier. He was experimenting with the family's box camera and developing and printing black and white film while in the Cub Scouts at age ten. He was lucky to survive an adolescence involving rocketry and amateur pyrotechnics, and his attic chemistry lab was the terror of the neighborhood. By his junior year in Virginia's Newport News High School, he had his first 35-mm camera and had begun creating an extensive file of color slides and digital images that today total more than 140,000 images.

Chip entered Virginia Tech and, as a physics major, proceeded to take a broad range of science courses including geology and chemistry, graduating in 1970 with a bachelor's of science in biology. During these university days he discovered scuba diving and cave exploration, exotic interests that would become very useful in his future museum photographic career.

For the first two years following graduation, Chip taught high school biology and physical sciences in Newport News. In 1973, Chip joined the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, originally as an exhibits script researcher working on an exhibition for the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial covering environmental change in the Washington, D.C., area during the past ten thousand years. Fascinated by the creative activities within the museum, he began photographing the behind-the-scenes activities in the Office of Exhibits: model makers, designers, artists, and scientists, all involved in producing world-class exhibitions.

Soon realizing that Chip's photographs were a lot better than his script research writing efforts, museum management created the Scientific and Studio Photographer position he held to the end of his career and his life. Chip traveled all over the world (and sometimes under the world) with the Natural History Museum's scientific staff on expeditions to Peru, Bolivia, Kenya, Cuba, India, Belize, France, Spain, and the high Arctic.

His efforts in documenting the museum's research found him dressed in surgical gowns at autopsies, dangling from a rope deep within a tropical cave, half a mile beneath the ocean in a research submarine, hanging out of a helicopter, and locked inside a vault with a billion dollars in gemstones—always with a camera in hand and a grin on his face.

Chip passed away on 12 June of this year. He leaves behind his wife, Debbie, his daughter, Jessica; and his brother, Peyton with his wife, Melba, nephew, Eric and niece, Jillian.

Family and friends prepared the above text for a remembrance ceremony that was held on 21 June in Arlington, Virginia; the comments that follow are those of my own memories of Chip.

I met Chip shortly after he arrived at the Natural History Museum where I worked as an illustrator. We shared many interests, not the least of which was photography. I was an amateur photographer and wanted to learn as much as I could from him and the other photographers at the Smithsonian. However, the thing that really cemented our relationship was our mutual interest in gadgets and finding ways to employ them to solve (or even cause) problems, real or imagined.

I also had the pleasure of spending time with him in the rain forests of Peru and Bolivia, where I always took advantage of the fact that he was quite particular about the food he ate. I made sure I sat next to him at mealtimes so I would have better odds in getting anything he didn't like.

With the acquisition of personal computers and, subsequently, digital photography, we developed and shared our experiences and knowledge of digital imaging. At our early morning museum coffee sessions, there was almost always an impromptu computer and software Q&A where we shared new discoveries, techniques or problems, and often gave a “show and tell” of our latest interests.

All who knew Chip as a colleague and friend miss him and his view of the world shown in his expressive imagery, but, most of all, we miss his generosity and friendship.

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