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Remembering Bill Normark

Tributes to Bill Normark

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Excerpts from tributes in the Book of Bill, compiled by Florence Wong and presented to Bill on the occasion of his retirement in 2007, and from spoken tributes at the celebration of Bill's life held at Stanford University on February 9, 2008.

"You are among the most kind, considerate, and dynamic scientists to have graced the halls of the U.S. Geological Survey. You have always given a tremendous amount of your time, particularly to students and those just starting their professional careers, and never hesitated to include others when your creative genius started to flow."—Mary McGann, USGS

Andrea Fildani and Bill Normark at Fildani's wedding Andrea Fildani (left) and Bill Normark, at Fildani's wedding in Sasso, Italy, May 29, 2006. Fildani wrote: "How an Italian boy ended up in the U.S. and married a Missouri girl is probably a story too long for this book … but I have to say that one of the most compelling reasons why this happened is related to Bill. As a young scientist in Italy, I always wanted to work with Bill," which he eventually did, as a graduate student at Stanford University (Ph.D., 2004). Fildani now works for Chevron Energy Technology in San Ramon, California. He coauthored (with Dave Scholl and DJ Normark) an obituary for Bill in the May 27, 2008, issue of Eos (v. 89, no. 22, p. 203-204).

"I am surprised that someone as famous and busy as Bill was willing to dedicate a significant proportion of his workday to educating a very naive undergraduate geology major. … This is probably a familiar story for many of the students fortunate enough to work with Bill."—Jake Covault, Stanford University

"We all know Bill as an accomplished researcher and scientist, as skillful as any at running the government paperwork gauntlet, but only we students have the pleasure of experiencing Bill the mentor. The effect Bill has had on my development as a researcher has been significant: from the seemingly little, nitpicky items related to finishing a manuscript, to the big-picture questions and general approach to science, and everything in between."—Brian Romans, Stanford University

Bill Normark on banjo and Ed Clifton on guitar Bill Normark and Ed Clifton "Bill made his dramatic debut in the 1975 Pick and Hammer Show, when he and Ed Clifton introduced to the world the "Mudders Brudders" Siamese twins. Their satire was every bit as good as that of the Smothers Brothers (remember them?). This twosome continued their antics in the inaugural Pick and Anchor show where, with Bill on banjo and Ed on guitar, they bade a priceless farewell to the old Hiller Building. What fun we had!" —Gretchen Luepke Bynum, USGS (retired)

"Some people might refer to the twenty-dollar bill as a 'Jackson,' but to many of us it was called a 'Normark,' a unit of measure for dinner at a fine restaurant. … I had the good fortune of being one of [the students mentored by Bill, who] generously shared of his experience and encouraged those around him to grow, both scientifically and personally. … And I do now have a string of favorite restaurants along the west coast—where companionship and good food and wine are much more memorable than the number of 'Normarks'." —Jan Morton, USGS

"I was amazed with [Bill's] calm in the face of adversity, which we had plenty of—lost equipment, broken equipment, broken ships, exploding septic systems … and of course the notorious Juan de Fuca storms. … Still, the cruises were a joy due to the spirit of teamwork and Bill's unflappable leadership." —Stephanie Ross, USGS

"I first met Bill Normark in 1984, when I was a young Program Manager Assistant at Ifremer in Paris. … The second time, in 1989, I was aware of Bill's celebrity and talent. … I was impressed by his kindness, his curiosity, and his patience, which were as big as his science, his spirit, and his experience." —Bruno Savoye, Ifremer, Brest, France

photo of Bill Normark "...thank you, Bill (and I don't forget DJ), for 40 years of friendship, for at least seven cruises together, for at least 20 fine papers together, for many productive hours together spent brainstorming at our kitchen table. ...You became so much a part of our family (with the help of the USGS) that your quite distinctive portrait is to be found in our children's first attempts at photography." —David J.W. Piper, Geological Survey of Canada

"In all of our lives we have a very few teachers, coaches, and mentors who truly shape who we are, where we arrive, and how we comport ourselves along the way. For me, Bill is among that small pantheon. Bill's legacy is larger than his own life. He taught me how to teach and create opportunities for others; it is a geometric progression that he leaves in his wake." —Grant Lichtman, Francis Parker School

"I was so lucky to have landed under your [Bill's] wing at the USGS. My education there was not only geological, but under your guidance also oenological, gastronomical, musical, and lots of fun. … I salute you, a regular, fun-loving guy who happens to be a very famous scientist, accomplished winemaker, teacher, and friend." —Chris Gutmacher, USGS (retired)

Bill Normark and his'tubeworm feast' "I still have fond memories of Bill's 'tubeworm feast' on the Atlantis II, 1984, Juan de Fuca Ridge." —Ellen Kappel, Geoscience Professional Services, Inc.

"I think that you [Bill] and I were lucky to work during the best years of clastic sedimentology. … it was your work with David Piper that made so many useful comparisons between modern and ancient, and contributed significantly to the models that emerged about 1978. … I congratulate you on all of the contributions you have made over the years." —Roger Walker, Emeritus Professor, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

"Your contributions extend beyond pure science to the realm of scientific leadership, and your numerous awards attest to the esteem in which you are held by your colleagues. (However, I must ask the question: Which is more important to you, the Shepard Medal or the Gold Medal for the Gewurtztraminer?)" —Ed Clifton, USGS Emeritus Scientist

Many additional tributes were sent to Bill, in PowerPoint presentations and e-mail messages too numerous to include here.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Bill Normark: USGS Marine Geologist, Mentor, Winemaker
June 2008
The (Slow) Ascent of the Sea Cliff
June 2008
Pisces Dive P5-78, Hawai'i
June 2008

Related Web Sites
Qualities of a Good Mentor (440 KB PDF)

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cover story:
Water-Quality Monitoring

New Method to Estimate Sea-Ice Thickness

Meetings Airborne Lidar Processing System Workshop

Staff Bill Normark Passes Away

Bill Normark: Tributes

Bill Normark: Ascent of Sea Cliff

Bill Normark: Pisces Dive P5-78

St. Petersburg Office Dedicates New Building

USGS Deputy Director Addresses Downtown Partnership

Publications Coastal-Sediment-Transport Data in Google Earth

June 2008 Publications List

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