Parker E. Calkin
Parker E. Calkin
  • April 27, 1933 - June 10, 2017
  • Boulder, Colorado

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April 27, 1933 - June 10, 2017

Parker Emerson Calkin, 84, died on June 10, 2017 in Boulder, CO. Born in Syracuse, NY on April 27, 1933, he grew up in NY, VA, and NJ, graduating from high school in Ridgewood NJ in 1951. Parker, following in his father's footsteps, went on to Tufts University, graduating with a B.A. in Geology in 1955.

As an undergraduate in 1952, he spent time in Greenland as a student assistant with the U.S. Weather Bureau. One of his Tufts classmates on that assignment was Thomas Pickering, former Ambassador to Russia. When not working on his geology degree, having given up pole-vaulting, he took up running. By his senior year, Parker was co-captain of the Tufts track team that won the Eastern Collegiate Track and Field Championship in 1955. In that competition he also won the 440- yard dash.

Upon graduation, Parker was on active duty as a Reserve Officer with the US Navy in Alaska. In 1959 Parker received a Masters in geology from the University of British Columbia. The Ohio State University beckoned with its Byrd Polar Research Center. While there Parker began his expeditions to Antarctica, resulting in a PhD in 1963. His dissertation title was Geomorphology and Glacial Geology of the Victoria Valley System, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Several subsequent research expeditions to Antarctica resulted in many publications and his being awarded the Antarctic Service Medal. Parker was also honored by having the Calkin Glacier in Antarctica's Taylor Valley being named after him. As far as is known, it hasn't yet melted!

Parker's teaching career began at the State University College, Buffalo, NY from 1963-65. He was a professor at the State University of NY at Buffalo from 1965-99. He directed five PhD dissertations and thirty-six M.A. theses, and published over ninety articles. Over his long career, Parker received thirteen National Science Foundation research grants. Approximately, 50% of his publications deal with the Arctic or Antarctic, and 50% with New York state and Eastern Great Lakes.

Parker and his wife, Harriet Simons, spent two sabbatical leaves in Boulder before retiring. During those leaves, he was an Affiliate of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR.) He continued this association and his research in Glacial and Quaternary Geology after retirement. (Earlier, In 1986, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, England.)

Parker and Harriet moved to Boulder in 1998. International travel, especially to countries with active glaciers, became a priority. But Parker spent as much time as he could outdoors in Colorado, running or hiking. He ran in every Bolder Boulder since 1999-most often coming out 2nd or 3rd in his age group. Volunteering in the community came naturally to him. Parker's major volunteer effort was as a Park Host for Open Space, but he also delivered Meals on Wheels, served as President of the Linden II Homeowners Association, and chaired the Board of Spiritual Life at First Congregational Church.

In recent years Parker's most meaningful social outlets were the WOW hiking group and the Men's Breakfast group at First Congregational. He also enjoyed attending numerous classical music concerts with Harriet.

In addition to his family, Parker was enormously proud of the many geology students he mentored. All who knew him remarked on his gentlemanly ways, his smile, his politeness, his willingness to help, and his adherence to the Boy Scout principles learned in his youth.

Survivors in addition to his wife, Harriet, include his sister, Janice Calkin of Greeenwich, CT, and his children from his earlier marriage to Joan Calkin-Mark (Melissa), of Castle Pines, CO; and Lisa Calkin Clough of Buffalo. Five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren also survive.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 1 at 11:00 a.m. in the First Congregational Church, 1128 Pine St. in Boulder,CO 80302. Condolences may be left on the website of Crist Mortuary in Boulder. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl 17, Chicago, IL 60601 or the Geological Society of America, PO Box 9140, Boulder, CO 80301.