Herb Barghusen (1933-2015)

November 29, 2016

Herbert (Herb) R. Barghusen, a longtime resident of Hyde Park in Chicago and more recently of Ogden Dunes, IN, died on December 25, 2015 in Chesterton, IN after an illness of several months.

Born July 9, 1933 in Englewood, New Jersey to Lydia Bertha (nee Weber) and John Joseph Barghusen, Herb spent his youth in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City.  He often recounted his pleasure in crossing the bridge into the city to visit the American Museum of Natural History and other cultural attractions that fed his curiosity about the natural world.

A graduate of Ridgewood, New Jersey, High School, he majored in geology at Lafayette College (class of 1955) before attending the University of Chicago where he earned his PhD in Paleontology in 1960. In 1957, he married Joan DeVan, a fellow U of C student.

After teaching at Smith College in Northampton, Mass (1961-1964) and Loyola University in Chicago, he taught gross anatomy at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and Dentistry from 1968 until his retirement in 1988. In the academic year 1978-79, he served as a visiting faculty member at the University of Chicago where he helped to create the Human Morphology course in the College.

His research interests in evolutionary biology centered on the development of the anatomy of the jaw apparatus and inner ear in early mammals and took him to study fossil collections in many parts of the world, including Europe, South Africa, and Russia. His most influential article, “The Lower Jaw of Cynodonts (REPTILIA, THERAPSIDIA) and the Evolutionary Origin of Mammal-Like Adductor Jaw Musculature” appeared in Postilla (1968), and he authored or co-authored papers that appeared in numerous other scientific journals. He was a longtime member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and a research associate of The Field Museum of Natural History.

He was a popular teacher, whom students were genuinely happy to see outside of class. They praised him for being a tough but fair instructor, who offered patient and genuine guidance on research issues. A recurrent theme with students and colleagues was Herb’s ability to maintain a conversation, sometime over multiple meetings, to push ideas to their productive conclusion. While personal correspondence with a University of Chicago administrator commenting on students’ reception of his teaching acknowledged, “their vote of confidence in you is one of the strongest I have experienced in my entire academic career.”

After retirement, he pursued photography as a serious avocation and, for several years, he was an active member of the Chicago Camera Club. His early work in black and white explored what he called the “vulnerability of the human condition.” His photos were shown at a number of exhibits in the Chicago area throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Relocating to Ogden Dunes, Indiana, in 2005, he began working in color photography, centering his interests on the delicate balance of nature and industry in the dunes of northwest Indiana.

He is survived by his wife Joan, their son Stephen (Katherine Knutson), daughter Laura (Mario Longoni), grandson Dante Longoni, brother John Joseph Barghusen, a nephew and three nieces.