Dorothy “Dottie” LaLonde Stout, an admired and revered leader in geoscience education, died peacefully at home in Whittier, California, among family on August 26, 2001, after a courageous year-long battle with brain cancer. She was an exemplary mentor in the geoscience community, her friends and colleagues describing her as "a remarkable person" and "incredible friend."

Born in 1941, Dottie Stout grew up in Ohio and studied at Bowling Green State University, receiving her Bachelor's degree in geology and history. In graduate school at Bowling Green, she focused her Master's research on understanding the relationships between fossil marine epifauna of the Silurian.
After raising three daughters, Dottie went back to school to get her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School in California. Her dissertation, entitled "The Development of Geologic Knowledge and Education and its Applications in California before 1934," uniquely wove together oral history, education, and geology. This subject remained one of her main research interests throughout her career.
A dedicated mother, educator, historian, and scientist, Dottie began teaching part-time at El Camino College, Long Beach City College, and Cal State Fullerton in 1967, molding her schedule around her daughters. In 1974, when her youngest daughter entered elementary school, Dottie began her distinguished career as a professor of geosciences at Cypress College, where she was honored as the Orange County Community College Teacher of the Year in 1996. She also received the Robert Wallace Webb teaching award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT). In June of this year, she retired from Cypress after 26 years.

Dottie's contributions to the geoscience community over the past thirty years have been immense and her many accolades were well deserved. She helped create the Geological Society of America Geoscience Education Division and the national Coalition for Earth Science Education (CESE), and she organized the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Chapman Conference “Scrutiny of Undergraduate Geoscience Education” in 1994. Dottie received National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for two teacher-enhancement projects, Project Update Geoscience (PUG) and the Earth and Space Science Technological Education Project (ESSTEP). In 1990, as the first female president of NAGT, she established the NAGT James Shea Award to recognize excellence in geoscience writing. In 1999-2000, she worked at NSF as program director for undergraduate earth-science education and helped create the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), an initiative that promises to transform teaching and learning at all grade levels across the geosciences.

In May of this year, Dottie was the recipient of AGU's “Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.” She was only the fourth individual and first woman to receive this international prize, which acknowledged her sustained commitment to teaching geophysical education and her outstanding, long-lasting, and positive impact on geoscience education through her professional career. "She served the geoscience community with vision, dedication, and boundless energy," said Ed Geary, her citationist at the AGU award ceremony. As prominent geologist Dr. Robert Ridky noted in 2001, “The range of Dottie’s influence on geoscience education has been enormous. In her purposeful way, she has been the primary catalyst behind virtually all of the major initiatives advancing geoscience education during the past several decades.”

No memorial for Dottie would be complete without mention of “Geology Goes Hollywood,” a wonderful and funny video, developed with the help of her daughter Deborah, that depicts the influence of geoscience on our culture and society.

Dottie will be remembered for living life to its fullest, sharing her enthusiasm for exploring the earth, and--most importantly--for encouraging all people around her to do the same. She revealed the fantastic world of geology to her students and professional geologists by organizing and leading dozens of field trips. Her destinations included North America (the Colorado Plateau, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Glacier National Park), South America (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, the Galapagos, Argentina), Europe (Great Britain, Iceland, Norway, Yugoslavia, Italy, Switzerland, Greece), Asia (China, Indonesia, Kamchatka, Tibet, Nepal), Africa (Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa), and Pacific islands (Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand).

Dorothy Stout is survived by three daughters, a grandson, and an extensive Ohio clan. So that her spirit, sense of adventure, and joy of teaching can continue to have a positive influence on the world, Dorothy's family has established The National Association of Geoscience Teachers’ “Dorothy L. Stout Memorial Fund.” For information about the fund, visit www.stellerphenomena.com.

Compiled by Jann Vendetti, Edward Geary, and Peter Weigand

 

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