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Geology Department Faculty Emeriti

Dr. C.W. Fetter

Dr. Charles W. Fetter, professor emeritus of Geology, passed away on September 10, 2011. Fetter received his Ph.D. and M.S. from Indiana University.  Fetter served on the UW Oshkosh faculty for 27 years from 1971 to 1998, serving as Department Chair from 1979-1981 and from 1984-1996.  He was named a John McNaughton Rosebush Professor in 1983.  Fetter taught environmental geology, hydrogeology, engineering geology, and glacial geology and authored several hydrogeology textbooks.  In recognition of his important contributions in the field of hydrogeology, he received the Excellence in Science and Engineering Award in 1996 and the Life Member Award in 2006, both from the National Ground Water Association.  In 1998 the Wisconsin Ground Water Association awarded him their Distinguished Professional Award. The family has asked that memorial contributions be sent to the C.W. Fetter Endowed Research Fund at the UW Oshkosh Foundation.

Dr. Norris W. Jones

Professor Jones (Norrie) retired in 2000, the same year he married Carol. Both had lost their spouses a few years before and Norrie liked the idea of getting married and retiring in 2000 because the year number would be easy to remember. Since that time his geological activities have diminished. He coauthored two papers, one in 2001, the other in 2005. His only remaining connection to geology is his Laboratory Manual for Physical Geology, which he coauthors with his son, Charlie.

Charlie is a geology professor at the University of Pittsburgh (a chip off the old block). He has been a coauthor since the 4th edition, which came out in 2003. The Manual is now in its 8th edition, published in 2013. Prof. Jones may have retired from UWO, but the Manual is still working there. He has 2 sons but only one is in geology. The other son, Peter, is a farmer in upstate New York. He raises goats and chickens, and makes goat cheeses and gelato from cow's milk. His farm is near the town of Herkimer -- ever heard of the Herkimer diamond? Between the two sons, they have gifted Norrie and Carol with 5 granddaughters, 2 of whom are twins. The girls range in age from 8 to 13 (in 2014) and Norrie is sure you have never seen such smart and beautiful little girls! Given 5 granddaughters, you can probably guess where most of Norrie and Carol's travels lead them.

The Joneses still live in the same place west of Oshkosh, the old (early 1880s) farm house on 5 acres. (Some of you may remember the Halloween parties.) It seems to get harder and harder every year to do all the outdoor chores -- wonder why that is?


Dr. Gene LaBerge

Gene has been involved in the production of an exhibit on the Flambeau Mine at Ladysmith, WI (his hometown). The exhibit is primarily mineral specimens that illustrate features of the Flambeau Mine that, in turn, illustrate how the ore in the mine was formed.  Fortunately he had made many trips to the mine site before, during and after the mining occurred (1993-1997).  The old samples, photos and other information helped in selecting rock and mineral specimens for the display. Along with the display, Gene was asked to create a pamphlet explaining when and how the ore formed. With the help of Dr. Joanne Kluessendorf from the Weis Earth Science Museum in Menasha, and Dr. William Cordova of UW-River Falls, the pamphlet was completed. It included maps, diagrams and numerous photos of the mine, before and during mining, as well as during back-fill of the pit and reclamation of the site.

Aside from that, Gene has been working on the reprint of a book about his mother, Travels with Sophie, that he and his daughter, Michelle, published in about 2000.

In June of 2014, Gene and his wife, Sally, enjoyed a trip to Stavanger, Norway to visit their daughter Rene and her family. Rene’s husband, Craig, is working on the petroleum beneath the North Sea. He is a 3-D seismic specialist. The area in southwestern Norway has spectacular scenery in the fjords.

Other than that, Sally and I, along with our children and grandchildren got another year older.


Dr. Thomas S. Laudon

Dr. Thomas Laudon passed away on January 1st, 2017 at his home on Lake Winnebago. In 1963, Tom accepted a job at UW Oshkosh as the second geology professor in the department. It was a job he would love until his retirement in 1999. During his tenure at UW-O, Tom established a renowned geology summer field camp. Over the course of 35 summers, he led hundreds of students through the Canadian Rockies to the Yukon Territory. He passed to his students his knowledge of geology, passion for the outdoors and mountaineering, and love of cheap whiskey, cigars and campfire revelry. Academic research played an integral component to Tom's career taking him around the world including the UK, Mexico, the South Pacific, the Himalayas (Mt. Everest), Australia. 

His family established the Laudon Family Field Camp Scholarship, which will be given for the first time in 2018.

James W. McKee

I miss my faculty colleagues since retirement, but luck has been with me and I now enjoy daily association with new colleagues; Daisy is on my left and her colt, Buddy, is on my right. Notice that gender distribution shows balance that was never achieved by the former faculty group. 

These new colleagues are like my former ones in some ways: they are friendly, tolerant of my shortcomings, tenacious of their opinions, and may be more intelligent than they appear. They aren't conversationalists so they wouldn't have added to the daily lunchroom chats I used to enjoy. On the other hand, both burros are patient listeners and when they do get agitated or inattentive, they respond well to an arm around the neck and gentle pulls on their ears. I don't know whether that would have worked with any of my previous colleagues but I enjoy the contemplation of it.

Daisy and Buddy belong to Mary Beth, who is teaching them manners and how to be good saddle animals. They are quick to learn simple tricks (jump barrels, stand on stumps, side-pass, etc.) but have great trouble with Go Faster, and Don't Stop. (That kind of reminds me of me. ) Buddy has grown to be much larger than Daisy and may allow me some day to use his young knees instead of my oId ones on yet another field project.

Of course, I miss relationship with students, but the donkeys never make me think of them. Well, hardly ever. There was this fellow though...

As for geological stuff, we are much pleased to have completed, finally, our work in Sonora and southernmost Arizona. We set out, full of confidence and high purpose, in investigation of a splendid hypothesis that we were ultimately unable to evaluate. That sounds like failure, but since the hypothesis was neither supported nor disproved, it remains as splendid as ever --as good as new. We continued to work on the same rocks in the same area and ultimately discovered a geological history we had not dreamed of--stories far more interesting than that damned splendid hypothesis. The fact is that patient, thoughtful, high-mileage field work will almost always wrest good stories from rocks.

These most recent stories are in GSA Special Paper 393 (McKee, J. W., McKee M. B., and Anderson T. H., 2005, pp. 481-507. ) Some earlier work in Zacatecas is in the same volume (Anderson, T.H., Jones, N. W., and McKee, J. W., 2005. pp. 427-455.) Oh what fun we had in those days!

I still hope to write my opinion of the origin of the entire Sierra Madre Oriental and may yet do so. If so, I hope my work will not be an embarrassment to my colleagues. Either set.


Dr. Brian K. McKnight

Professor McKnight retired in 1999. Brian received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1984 and the Rosebush Professorship in 1987. He used to teach honors geology, structural geology, sedimentology, and oceanography. Brian was an early participant in the Deep Sea Drilling Project in both the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans with the purpose of understanding the history of those oceans in relation to Plate Tectonics. He later spent two years at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. as Program Officer of the ocean drilling projects. His later research was forearc basin sedimentation in Western Oregon. In collaboration with others, several geologic quadrangle sheets were prepared and the USGS is finally ready to release them. 

After retiring from the University, Brian had been an owner and wine buyer for two wine stores, one in Oshkosh and the other in Appleton under the name McKnight & Carlson. This had taken him to Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Germany as well as numerous U.S. locations to taste and learn about wine. He has recently sold his interest in McKnight & Carlson and retired from the wine business. Brian lost his wife, Carole, in June 2010 after a sixteen year battle with cancer. 

Brian has written many stories about growing up in the Kickapoo Valley for his home town newspaper. He has completed the first draft of a book about that region covering farm and small village life from the end of the depression through WWII and into the 1950's.


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