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James Elvin Conkin


1924 - 2017
James Elvin Conkin Obituary
Conkin, James Elvin,

93, "shrugged off this mortal coil" on Dec. 3, 2017. "He told all he knew, and more." He was born Oct. 14, 1924, in Glasgow, KY, to Rachel Pauline (Hicks) and Basil Conkin.

He grew up in Louisville and found his life's vocation as a geologist, mentored under the guidance of Col. Lucien Pearson Beckner. He graduated from Male High School in 1943, and joined the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, serving in Okinawa and the occupation of North China. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Kentucky in 1950, master's degree at the University of Kansas in 1953, and his doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 1960. He founded the Geology Department at the University of Louisville in 1964, served as its first chairman until 1968, and taught there from 1957 until 2001 before becoming professor emeritus. He held a Senior Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, accompanied by his family from 1964 to 1965. He also received Fulbright grants for travel to Britain and a Lectureship to India. He had a research fellowship to the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology in China and grants to study in Sweden, Egypt and Belgium. He was named Kentucky Geologist of the Year in 2001 by the American Institute of Professional Geologists. In 1973 he postulated (along with his geologist wife Barbara) the concept of a peneplane called a paracontinuity, in which a rock face of apparently continuous strata is interrupted by a thin layer of heavier detritus that represents a significant loss of time.

He was preceded in death by his youngest daughter, Lisa Carol Otoum. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara Ellen Conkin; daughters, Deborah (Michael) Walton, and Anne Conkin; son, David (Maureen) Conkin; granddaughters, Jessica Bookin, Lauren Conkin, Madeline (Jonathan) Brennan, and Kirsten Conkin; grandsons, Eric Bookin, Riad (Sara) Otoum, Ramsey Otoum, and Ethan Conkin; and son-in-law, Jamil Otoum. He is also survived by his step-brother Bob (Charlene) Akins; and their children, Kelly Akins-Allen and Scott Akins.

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, Dec. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Conkin residence. The family wishes to thank Hosparus and Home Instead for their support and care. In his autobiography, "A Geologist's Ramblings through the Labyrinths of Time," Jim quoted for his epitaph from the movie "Love at First Bite", "OK, I'll go, but when I am gone, the world will be as dull as Bucharest on a Tuesday night."
Published in The Courier-Journal from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10, 2017
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