Paleonet: Robert DeMar
plotnick at uic.edu
Thu Apr 26 16:45:09 BST 2007
I regret to inform the community of the passing of my colleague Robert
DeMar on Saturday April 21.
Robert E. DeMar was a vertebrate paleontologist and one of the founding
faculty of the geology department of the University of Illinois at
Chicago. He joined the university in 1956, when it was still at Navy
Pier, as assistant in charge of the introductory geology laboratories.
Bob remained at UIC throughout his career, rising to the rank of
Professor and serving as head of the Department of Geological Sciences
(now Earth and Environmental Sciences) from 1979 to 1986, retiring in
1997. He was a key person in the transformation of the Department and
University from its origins at Navy Pier to a world-class teaching and
Born in 1931, DeMar was proud to be the son of marathoner Clarence
DeMar, the winner of seven Boston Marathons, and bronze medalist at the
1924 Paris Olympics. Bob was stricken with polio in his late teens,
which affected him through the rest of his life. He overcame this
obstacle to receive a bachelor's degree from Harvard (1953) and a M.S.
(1960) and PhD (1961) from the University of Chicago, where he studied
with Everett C. Olson. Bob's research interests were in Paleozoic and
Mesozoic reptiles and amphibians; he was particularly interested in the
evolution of their teeth and jaws, including their functional anatomy
and patterns of tooth replacement.
DeMar was instrumental in the development of geology instruction at UIC.
In 1958, he initiated a spring-break field trip to the Missouri Ozarks,
an experience that remains integral to geology undergraduate education
at UIC today. During that first trip, he met Mary Louise ("Marylou")
Ratal, who he married a year later. DeMar also developed the
introductory geology laboratories at UIC, which were unique for their
"hands-on" components and also continue to be used today. His use of the
Socratic method became an integral part of the undergraduate teaching in
the Department. He also taught courses in paleontology and field
geology. DeMar was held in high esteem by his colleagues and students.
Bob and Marylou were active in local politics and worked as precinct
captains and contributors to the Chicago 4th Ward Democratic
organization. He was also an enthusiastic dog owner. Marylou DeMar died
August 23, 2001; they had no children. He is survived by three sisters
and many nieces and nephews.
Roy E. Plotnick
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Chicago
845 W. Taylor St.
Chicago, IL 60607
E-mail: plotnick at uic.edu
office phone: 312-996-2111 fax: 312-413-2279
lab phone: 312-355-1342
web page: http://www.uic.edu/~plotnick/plotnick.htm
"The scientific celebrities, forgetting their molluscs and glacial periods, gossiped about art, while devoting themselves to oysters and ices with characteristic energy.." -Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
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