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Jon KALB Obituary
KALB, Jon Ervin Jon Ervin Kalb died in his home in Austin, Texas on Friday, October 27, 2017 at the age of 76 after a two-decade long battle with Parkinson's. He will be deeply missed by his family and people whose lives he touched with humor and grace, and by those fortunate enough to have accompanied him on at least one of his epic adventures. He was born on August 17, 1941 in Houston, TX, to parents June Greer Kalb and Bernard J. Kalb. He grew up in Houston, exploring the blackberry bushes along the railroad tracks through Brae's Bayou and beyond. Following his passion for discovery, he went on to become a research geologist with the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory (Texas Memorial Museum) at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a pre-doctoral fellowship from the Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory in 1968, a graduate fellowship from Johns Hopkins University in 1969, and a B.Sc. from American University in 1970. He had extensive field experience in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and West Texas. He wrote numerous scientific publications and a memoir on his time in Ethiopia's Afar Depression. The memoir, Adventures in the Bone Trade, (Copernicus Books, 2001) describes his work in Ethiopia from 1971 to 1978. He was a founder of the expedition that recovered the 3.2 million year-old Lucy skeleton, and later, director of the Ethiopia-based team that discovered some of the most prolific deposits in the world bearing early hominid fossils and artifacts. In 2002, Adventures in the Bone Trade was awarded the Robert W. Hamilton Award for Non-Fiction from the University of Texas at Austin, and the Violet Crown Award for Non-Fiction, from the Texas Writers League. Terry Harrison from New York University wrote that the book was: "A wonderfully engaging personal account of how science is shaped as much by sociology, politics, and historical events as it is by important discoveries" His second memoir, Hunting Tapir During the Great Flood, takes a longer view, tracing Jon's life of exploration from boyhood to the fossil surveys he undertook in West Texas despite illness. When asked recently if he had any thoughts about his obituary, he responded with characteristic dry wit, "I wrote a book." He was a generous mentor and teacher, helped train a generation of students, and always offered sage advice about where to go to find fossils. He is fondly remembered by the many Ethiopians whose lives he touched. A resident of Austin for 39 years, Jon was a familiar figure around town driving a succession of beat-up field jeeps. He was a warm and friendly character known in Austin and West Texas. He was blessed with a remarkable passion for his work that carried him through over twenty years of life with Parkinson's. He is survived by his wife Judith R. Kalb, his daughters Justine Kalb Costello of Brooklyn, NY, and Spring Kalb Utting of San Francisco, CA and four grandchildren, Redd and Greer Costello and Astrid and Sasha Utting. His brother and sister, Peter Kalb and Claire Kalb Morgan are predeceased. A memorial service will be held on January 27th, at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden at 10am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to .
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Nov. 12 to Nov. 13, 2017
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