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Obituaries – C. Howard C. Brunton

Durante l’estate “è passato a miglior vita” uno dei più grandi paleontologi di sempre che per nostra fortuna ha dedicato molte delle sue energie allo studio dei brachiopodi (link).

Purtroppo non l’ho mai conosciuto di persona, ma ho avuto l’occasione di scambiare con lui alcune email dalle quali traspariva la sua cortesia oltre che ovviamente la sua preparazione nello studio dei brachiopodi.

Di consequenza sono felice e onorato di poter pubblicare sul blog il necrologio ricevuto tramite newsletter (paleonet@nhm.ac.uk) da Sandra J. Carlson.

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Message: 2
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 02:39:42 -0500
From: James Davison <jamesdavison@comcast.net>
Subject: Re: Paleonet: C. Howard C. Brunton
To: PaleoNet <paleonet@nhm.ac.uk>
Message-ID: <48C779BE.9000908@comcast.net>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”windows-1252″

Sandy, I am sorry for the loss, but grateful for the eulogy.  — JD

Sandy Carlson wrote:

C. Howard C. Brunton
 
On July 20, 2008, the world lost an extraordinary paleontologist and a
remarkable man.  Dr. C. H. C. Brunton succumbed to septicemia
following an illness of several months; he was 73 years old.  It is
often said that certain individuals serve as outstanding role models
for others, largely through their selfless behavior and steadfast
courage ? Howard epitomized such an individual.  I had worked with
Howard for nearly 20 years, largely as Deputy Coordinating Authors of
the revision of Part H, Brachiopoda, of the Treatise on Invertebrate
Paleontology, with Sir Alwyn Williams as the Senior Coordinating
Author.  I came to realize early on what a truly extraordinary person
Howard was, both professionally and personally, and feel very
fortunate to have been touched by his great integrity and profound
humanity.
 
Howard was born in Surrey, England, in 1935.  He completed his Ph.D.
degree in 1964 at The Queen?s University, Belfast, a student of Alwyn
Williams, working on Carboniferous brachiopods from Northern Ireland. 
Upon graduation, his fine intellect and personable manner led to his
immediate hiring as the Curator of brachiopods in the Palaeontology
Department of the British Museum (Natural History) (now, The Natural
History Museum) in London in 1964.  An accomplished and highly
experienced mountain climber, some may know that Howard was involved
in a tragic mountaineering accident in the Lake District in 1972.  He
was dependent on a wheelchair for the rest of his life, often enduring
considerable pain and discomfort, without a word of complaint.  In
spite of great hardship, Howard was unfailingly kind and respectful to
all, patient and thoughtful, honest and fair, creative and hard
working ? always ready with his quick, warm smile, an encouraging
word, a supportive nod.  Anyone who knew him had enormous respect and
great affection for Howard, and we all mourn his loss deeply.
 
Howard was widely known among the world of brachiopodologists as the
expert on productide (and other) brachiopods, producing over 80
scientific articles and papers in his lifetime.  He was a consummate
morphologist and systematist, deeply interested in the evolution and
geological history of these fascinating organisms.  Far from taking a
stamp-collector?s attitude toward brachiopod systematics, Howard was a
true scholar of morphology, committed to reaching a better
understanding of why brachiopod shape was so variable and why it
varied as it did.  In particular, he believed strongly that the
external shape of brachiopod shells, reflecting their ecology and mode
of life, was just as significant in understanding brachiopods as whole
organisms, as the various structures preserved on the interior of the
valves, reflecting their internal anatomy.  Howard was, early on, a
leader in paleontology in seeking to interpret and make sense of
brachiopod morphology, and not merely to describe and catalogue its
variation.  He thought deeply and wrote insightfully about shell
structure, size, shape, and position of muscle scars, the nature of
the cardinal process and hinge structures, the phylogenetic hierarchy
within productides and other related brachiopods, homology of
morphological structures among brachiopods, and produced many
scholarly works that will live on after him, contributing
significantly to the intellectual foundation of our field.  He really
was a giant in the field of brachiopod research, and he leaves a void
that is impossible to fill.

Following completion of the brachiopod volumes of the Treatise, Howard
was enjoying retirement, moving out of the bustle and grit of London
to a quiet country home in Somerset.  He was able to spend more time
with his wonderful, ever-supportive wife Eileen, so both could more
fully engage in pursuits of gardening, natural history and
archaeology, music and traveling.  He participated actively in
community disability issues, and served as the Chairman of the South
Somerset Disability Forum for the past four years.  Eileen wrote the
following about his last few months:  ?Howard was in hospital for a
month from last mid-December.  He was very frail when he came out, but
fought back, as you might expect, to a semblance of his old self,
taking up his former pursuits as much as possible, hoping that once
his kidney stone was removed after our cruise his pain would be
diminished.  However this was not to be, and it worsened enormously
during his last week.  The doctors and nurses were wonderful in
helping to keep him at home where he wanted to be until he was too
weak to fight any more and septicaemia took him from us.? 

If you wish, you many make a donation to The Spinal Injuries
Association or the Keswick Mountain Rescue in Howard?s memory.

 
Sandy

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Sandra J. Carlson

Department of Geology

University of California

One Shields Avenue

Davis, CA  95616-8605

carlson@geology.ucdavis.edu <mailto:carlson@geology.ucdavis.edu&gt;

http://www.geology.ucdavis.edu/faculty/carlson.html

Voice:  530-752-2834

FAX:  530-752-0951

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settembre 25, 2008 - Posted by | Brachiopodi, P - Obituaries | , , , , , , ,

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