Death and Memorial
October 1, 2013, Volume 60, No. 7
Dr. Patrick, Biology
Dr. Ruth Patrick, adjunct professor of biology in the School of Arts & Sciences, passed away September 23 at age 105.
Dr. Patrick began her affiliation with Penn in 1950 as a lecturer in botany and became an adjunct professor of biology in 1970.
A pioneer in environmental and multidisciplinary research, Dr. Patrick held the Francis Boyer Chair of Limnology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, where she had been since 1933, initially serving in unpaid positions. She was added to the payroll in 1945 and two years later established and chaired the limnology department, now called the Patrick Center for Environmental Research. She chaired the Academy’s board from 1973-1976 and continued coming into the office at the age of 100. The Academy established the Ruth Patrick Chair in Environmental Sciences in 2005.
Her work in the field of limnology, the study of freshwater rivers and lakes, highlighted the risks posed by water pollution. Dr. Patrick was the first scientist to consider plant life and animal species when diagnosing the health of a river.
Her research was nationally recognized, helping to prompt the passing of the Clean Water Act in 1972. She served as advisor on water pollution to President Lyndon B. Johnson and as an advisor on acid rain to President Ronald Reagan, and in 1997, she received the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton (Almanac June 18, 1996).
Dr. Patrick co-founded the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale in 1966.
She served on the Wistar Institute’s Board of Trustees from 1975-2008.
Amongst her many honors, Dr. Patrick became the 12th woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1970. She was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received 25 honorary doctorates, one of them given by Penn in 1984 (Almanac October 16, 1984). The Academy of Natural Sciences honored her 100th birthday with a gala that included a tribute from former Vice President Al Gore.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, Dr. Patrick earned her BS from Coker College in South Carolina in 1929 and both her MS and PhD in botany from the University of Virginia, in 1931 and 1934, respectively.
She is survived by her son, Dr. Charles Hodge V; step-children, Duncan Van Dusen, Dr. Michael H. Van Dusen and Sally Van Dusen Johnson, CW’69; three grandchildren; and many step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.
Donations may be made to the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill; the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University; the American Philosophical Society; and the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri.
Memorial: Dr. Hoffman
A memorial for Dr. Daniel Hoffman, the Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Emeritus, will be held on October 12, 2 p.m. at Swarthmore Friends Meeting, 12 Whittier Place, Swarthmore, PA 19081. Dr. Hoffman passed away March 30 at the age of 89 (Almanac April 9, 2013).
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