J. Thomas Dutro Jr. died on 13 June 2010


Dr. J. Thomas Dutro, Jr. died on June 13, 2010, at the age of 87. Tom was retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and was emeritus in the Department of Paleobiology.

Tom was born in 1923, in Columbus, Ohio, and entered Oberlin College in 1940. However, his studies were interrupted by World War II, where he served as a weatherman in western Greenland in conjunction with the northern Atlantic transport of airplanes from Canada to the United Kingdom. Tom's service during the War years probably was important for the D-Day invasion of northern France in June of 1944. He returned to his studies after the War and graduated in 1948. Tom then entered Yale University and received a Ph.D. in geology in 1953.

Tom began working for the USGS in early 1948. Soon thereafter, Tom was transferred to the Navy Oil Program, where he conducted basic reconnaissance work on the geology of the Brooks Range, northern Alaska, until 1956. After this stint, Tom joined Preston Cloud's group at the USGS Paleontology and Stratigraphy (P&S) Branch at the NMNH, where he was a specialist on Paleozoic brachiopods and biostratigraphy of Alaskan tectonic fragments. Eventually he expanded his expertise to the western U.S., the Appalachians, and recently, Eastern Asia and the western Pacific Rim. In addition to his scientific work he filled various administrative roles at P&S as a member of the Geology Panel of the Board of Civil Service Examiners (1958-1965), member of the Geologic Names Committee (1962-1965), and Branch Chief (1962-1968). In addition, Tom served as Secretary -Treasurer of the American Geological Institute, Associate Editor for the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Chair of the Geological Society's History of Geology Division, President of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, President of the Association of Earth Science Editors and President of the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, New York. Tom retired from the P&S Branch in 1994 and became a Research Associated in the Department of Paleobiology.

Tom Dutro was a foremost authority on late Paleozoic brachiopods and biostratigraphy. Among his more than 200 published papers and maps, there are many examples of how work in systematic paleontology interdigitates with and informs the world of geology. His careful work and expertise is known for the establishment of new taxa and clarification of new genera and species, particularly for assessing the paleobiogeographical validity of exotic terranes and the correlation of economically important formations. Tom's paleobiogeographical syntheses involved studies throughout western North America through western South America, where distinctive marine faunas were established for understanding the assembly of the west coasts of these continents during the Paleozoic.

Tom is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughters Sarah and Susan, and son Cristopher.

Scott Callan & Conrad Labandeira