It is with the deepest regret that I report that John A. Wilson passed away yesterday in Austin, Texas, at the age of 93, where he was surrounded by his family.
Jack, as he was known to his many friends, was born on November 3, 1914, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He received a BA degree in 1937 and a PhD in 1941 from the University of Michigan, where he studied under the supervision of E. C. Case. Jack served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during 1943-1945, and saw action in the Pacific during WW II. He taught geology at the University of Idaho School of Mines from 1940-1942 and, following the war, from 1945-1946.
In the fall of 1946, Jack moved to Austin where he joined the staff of the Department of Geology at the University of Texas. He was promoted to Professor of Geology in 1955 and taught until 1976, when he retired and became Professor Emeritus. In 1948, Jack founded the University of Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory and its graduate training program. To date, some 90 students have earned graduate degrees from the program that Jack started, and over the course of a long and productive career he had a profound impact on thousands of students in the most positive ways. Even during his retirement, Jack remained active in field work and was deeply involved in the Texas graduate training program.
Jack was a charter member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. He served the SVP as secretary-treasurer from 1949-1951 and as president in 1952. Jack was awarded the Romer-Simpson Medal by the SVP in 2000 at the Mexico City meetings. Jack worked in many different areas of vertebrate paleontology during his long career, but he is best known for his pioneering research on the Tertiary mammals and biostratigraphy of west Texas and Mexico.
Jack was a giant in our profession and he leaves an exceedingly high standard of professional accomplishment and integrity, a very high bar for the rest of us to live up to.
Biography and photos courtesy of Timothy Rowe, J. Nalle Gregory Regents Professor of Geology and Director, Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory
Top photo: Here is Jack pondering Rooneyia, which was the find of his lifetime.
Bottom photo: Jack at the SVP 67th Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas (2007). He had just been interviewed for the “We Are SVP” DVD which was unveiled at the 68th Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio.