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Resolutions of Respect (Obituaries)

In the early days of ESA deceased ecologists were occasionally memorialized in Ecology with extended obituaries volunteered by friends or colleagues.  Starting in 1951, the newly formed Committee on Resolutions began preparing or soliciting obituaries for recently deceased members (which soon came to be called Resolutions of Respect) that were then published in the ESA Bulletin.  The Committee on Resolutions faded away in the mid 1970’s, and the responsibility for soliciting obituaries passed to the Historical Records Committee, at first unofficially, then officially in 1991, where it continues to this day.

In 1979 the ESA Council, concerned about available space in the Bulletin, decided that only abbreviated death notices would be published.  In the 1980’s this was loosened to authorize (and require) longer Resolutions of Respect for former ESA Presidents and major award winners, while allowing shorter obituaries for other ecologists.  In 2015, with the Bulletin becoming an electronic-only journal with no page restrictions, this distinction was abandoned, so Resolutions and obituaries are combined below.

The fact that committees were responsible for soliciting obituaries for notable ecologists did not necessarily mean the obituaries were actually written.  Both committees had moribund periods when they were less active in soliciting obituaries, and even when they were, authors sometimes never got around to writing a promised obituary despite their (presumed) best intentions.  (This, too, continues to this day.)  As a result, many distinguished ecologists do not have Resolutions simply because no one prepared one.  (E. Lucy Braun, Victor Shelford, Robert MacArthur, Robert Whittaker and Paul Sears are among the most egregious examples.)  Conversely, many less notable ecologists did receive obituaries if former students, colleagues, or admirers wrote them voluntarily.  The presence or absence of an ecologist in the list below should not be considered as an index of their importance as a creator, mentor, or Society leader.

The list below includes only obituaries published in ESA journals.  Links to selected additional obituaries may be found in the Biography Table.

If you are interested in submitting an obituary for a deceased colleague, contact Bob Peet (robert_peet AT unc DOT edu) or Bob Jones (rhj AT clemson DOT edu). More information about ESA obituary/resolution policy and guidelines for preparing them can be found at the following link.