Thursday, May 22, 2008

In Memorium - Dr. Jerry O. Wolff

Dr. Jerry Wolff, of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, recently passed away. He entered the Canyonlands National Park in Utah on Sunday, May 11, 2008 and did not return. For the last week, the National Park Service has mounted an intense and thorough search. Park rangers, l ocal police, as well as friends and family involved with the search, now presume him to be dead. His death at a healthy andyouthful 65, and at the peak of a prolific and successful career, represents a profound loss.

I met Dr. Wolff while I was in the middle of completing my Master's Degree in Biology at the University of Memphis. He was the new department chair, and like my lab, he also studied the behavioral ecology of microtine rodents. Though not officially on my committee, he was an important contributor to my research and my academic studies while at Memphis. In fact, I credit Jerry, aka Daddy Wolff, Slender Foot, preparing me for my very first presentation at a professional conference. He was a handful - terribly opinionated, smart and quick as hell, and let absolutely no one off the hook. But he lived and worked harder than anyone. This man could complete and write up a research experiment and have it off to press so fast it was amazing.

A few of us (grad students) quipped behind his back that he was "Big Pimping Spending the Cheese" (The Jay-Z and the UGK collaborative) because of his cool casual manner and his tight walk. He could stroll. But really, he just might be the Tupac of Animal Behavior research. He was a prolific writer. I bet he'll have papers being published left and right for the next 3-5 years.

But some authorities think the case seems peculiar and that he may have wanted to disappear, and though I find it awfully hard to believe, some suspect a possible wandering off or suicide. It's wide open now. I can just imagine the number of conference attendees and researchers claiming to have had Elvis-like Jerry Citings in the field.

In accordance with Jerry's wishes, there are no plans for a memorial service. To commemorate his passing, you could make a donation in his name to either the American Society of Mammalogists or to the Animal Behavior Society.

American Society of Mammalogists:
Dr. Thomas Kunz,
Biology Department
Boston University
Boston, MA 02215

Animal Behavior Society:
Dr. Ira B. Perelle,
Psychology Department
Mercy College
Patterson, NY 12563

Happy Trails, Jerry


Unknown said...

I am going to miss Daddy Wolff. I first saw the desert south west on a trip with him. Odd that my first view of the canyon lands where he died was with him many years ago.

This makes me profoundly sad. For better or for worse, Jerry threw me into the deep end of the science pool and it was sink or swim, while being occasionally dunked under the water by him. I think there may have also been sharks with lasers. I'm not gonna lie, it was a rough time.

Some day I'm going to hike out to Canyonlands in Utah and yell at his crazy ass for doing this. What a terrible place he must have been in, inside of his head. The man never did anything half way, but at least he was in a place he really, really loved and made sure he went out with his own style.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I always wondered if I my memory of his treatment of me was too harsh at times. But obviously not. Everyone else remembers the same tough man.
I agree; something must have been way off for him to just vanish like that.
When you get to the desert - scream a few things for me, too.

Anonymous said...

He was found this week with a self inflicted shot. This is not surprising. Many of these wack job liberal professors are insane and are adanger to themselves and others.

Remember, Liberalism is a Mental Disorder.

DNLee said...

Poo poo on you Anonymous. Liberalism is no more mental than conservatism...And you obviously didn't know Jerry if you're characterinzing him as a typical liberal professor. Ha!

Travels with Moby said...

I knew Jerry very well. He taught my Animal Behavior Class at Oregon State University. He was very influential in my research and even though he could be extremely opinionated, I think what he wanted most was a good discussion. We discussed the evolution of gender differences. We got into a heated debate about athletic ability and gender. I point blank told him that everything that he was quoting did not take into consideration the wealth of research in neuroscience that states that this was all bunk. To his credit, he actually listened and we had a great discussion that day. He helped me realize that my own ideas were worthwhile and taught me (in his own way) how to stand up for myself in the academic world. I credit him with the best work that I did during my dissertation.

I miss him and I know many others that do as well.

Anonymous should go and play on Sarah Palin's website and not make fun of people that are dead. Its obvious that he or she is a Modern Conservative that suffers from a mental disorder known as Irritable brain disorder. Studies have shown that they have issues with amygdala activation and have problems with compassion. Anonymous appears to suffer from this condition. A frontal lobotomy would cure it.

Anonymous said...

Man, I completely agree with you on that.

There's just way too many suckers out there that can't understand.

In fact, I was fightin with my best friend kate yesterday about this, and
they wouldn't agree with me that he was wrong. Now I can just show them your blog :)

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