J. David Love, a legendary Rocky Mountain geoscientist, passed away on Friday, Aug. 23. He was 89 years old.
Love spent most of his career mapping the geology of his home state of Wyoming and received many awards recognizing both his spirit and his scientific contributions.
"He was a very fortunate person because he was able to stay in the part of the country that he loved the most and he was paid to do what he loved to do," says Love's daughter Frances Froidevaux. "From childhood, he was fascinated by the land around him."
Love was a scientist emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and an honorary member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and a lifetime member of the Geological Society of America. He also held an honorary doctor of laws from the University of Wyoming. Love worked for the USGS 45 years and, after he retired, continued to publish and to produce maps. He also taught and he led field trips as an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming and several other universities.
He also earned many awards, including the U.S. Department of the Interior's Meritorious Service Award and the American Geological Institute's first Legendary Geoscientist Award, which recognizes a geoscientist whose achievements have lasting and historic value for the earth sciences. In June 2000, the Museum of History and Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole gave Love its Carl Rungius Award, given in honor of wildlife and landscape painter Carl Rungius.
Earlier this month, Love and Jane Love, his wife of 62 years, received the 2002 Teton Medal, rewarding service to the Jackson Hole community. The Loves donated their property in East Jackson to the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust.
Born April 17, 1913, in Wyoming, Love spent his childhood on the Wind River Basin south of Riverton. Aside from many travels, he left his home state for only a few years: first to earn his doctorate in geology from Yale University in 1938, and then to spend four years mapping the Midcontinent and the southeastern United States for Shell Oil Co. In 1942 he returned to Wyoming to work as party chief of the USGS Mineral Deposits Branch. The next year, he opened the USGS Laramie field office. He spent 45 years working with the Survey, mapping the state and finding its resources. He directed the compilation of the 1955 and 1985 Wyoming state geological maps. Much of his time he spent outside, mapping Wyoming's geology outcrop by outcrop.
Author John McPhee chronicled much of Love's life and personality in the book Rising from the Plains.
"I've been a lucky person all my life," Love said in a Geotimes article two years ago. "Geology is so exciting. It doesn't matter what angle you approach. It can be extraordinarily rewarding. I'm still excited about it, as you can tell."
Love's two sons are both geologists: Charles Love teaches geology and anthropology at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs. Dave Love is principle senior environmental geologist with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. He is also survived by his wife; his daughter Frances Froidevaux of Laramie; his daughter Barbara Love of Bethlehem, Penn.; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. at the United Presbyterian Church on 11th and Grand in Laramie. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, gifts be sent to: the J. David Love Field Scholarship, run through the Wyoming Geological Association, care of Kent Sundell, 5034 Alcova Route, Box 12, Casper, WY, 82604; the Museum of the American West, 636 Lincoln, Lander, WY, 82520; University of Wyoming Geological Museum, Box 3006, Laramie, WY, 82071; or the Laramie Plains Museum, 603 Ivinson Ave., Laramie, WY, 82070
A 'Legendary Geoscientist' (Geotimes,
A summary of Rising from the Plains by John McPhee