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UCMP loses two friends: Bill Berry and Harley Garbani

Bill Berry
— portions excerpted from UC News Center and Robert Sanders, June 1, 2011

Bill Berry by A.E. Leviton

Professor of Earth and Planetary Science and former Director of UCMP Bill Berry.
Paleontologist William B.N. Berry, a former Director of UCMP (19761987) and professor of earth and planetary science for 53 years, died May 20th of skin cancer and related complications. He was 79. Within the scientific community, Bill was renowned for his research on Silurian graptolites, but on campus he was equally known for instilling in his students a concern for the local ecology. Reflecting on Bill's numerous contributions on numerous levels, Carole Hickman stated: "In his research, his teaching and his service, the unifying theme was getting out into the natural world to observe, measure and analyze. His colleagues and students remember him fondly for his enthusiasm for 'hands-on' science, whether collecting graptolites in the Ordovician or assessing water quality in an urban stream."

Bill was born and raised in Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard University, and received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1957. His research on graptolites shed important light on ancient environments, the precise age and correlation of rocks, and the processes of evolution and extinction. His work led to more than 300 published papers, abstracts and books.

As Director of UCMP, he initiated numerous outreach programs including the annual UCMP Open House, collaborations with the Lawrence Hall of Science, public lectures, and visits to local schools. When the paleontology department was split up in 1989, Berry elected to transfer to the Department of Geology and Geophysics, which eventually became the Department of Earth and Planetary Science (EPS).

UCMP is preparing a tribute to Bill in an upcoming special edition of the UCMP News. Bill is survived by his wife of 50 years, Suzanne Spaulding Berry, and son Bradford B. Berry, both of Berkeley. Through Bill's wishes and the help of his family, UCMP has established the William B.N. Berry Memorial Research Fund to support graduate students in invertebrate paleontology. Checks can be made payable to the "William B.N. Berry Memorial Research Fund" and sent to the UC Museum of Paleontology, 1101 Valley Life Science Building, Berkeley, CA 94720-4780.

Harley Garbani
— by Bill Clemens

Harley Garbani, a long-time associate of UCMP, passed away in April at the age of 88. His association with UCMP began in 1972 when he introduced a field party to the fossil-rich badlands of northeastern Montana. Almost every year since then students and staff from UCMP have returned to collect fossils and information on the geology of the Hell Creek and Tullock Formations, contributing data for ten doctoral dissertations and a continuing stream of research publications. As a result we now know much more about the evolution of terrestrial plants and animals during the transition from the Cretaceous to the Paleocene in North America some 65 million years ago.

Harley had an uncanny ability to find outstanding fossils, be they large or small. Two of the highlights of his discoveries are the skull of a hadrosaur, on exhibit next to the door to the UCMP office, and the restoration of a skull of the youngest Triceratops yet discovered (a cast is on display in the Biosciences Library). The restoration is based on a delicate specimen discovered and meticulously prepared by Harley. Among the regular attractions during Cal Day are a partial skull and skeleton of an adult Tyrannosaurus, an articulated skeleton of a baby hadrosaur, and a nearly whole dinosaur egg, all discovered by Harley and now part of our research collections. Although in recent years Harley was not able to go into the field, until a week before his death he was actively sorting screen washing concentrates from earlier years' collections from Montana. His work made significant contributions to our collections of mammals and other small vertebrates. These and many other fossils he helped collect have given UCMP an extensive and diverse research collection that continues to serve as the basis of research by members of the UCMP community and paleontologists from other universities and museums.

Harley Garbani Harley Garbani and Bob Engdahl

[Click either photo to see an enlargement] Left: Harley in the field, 1996. Right: Harley Garbani (left) and Bob Engdahl, one of the ranchers in Garfield County who continues to provide extensive support for UCMP field parties, at the Garfield County Rodeo, July 4, 1976.

Through the years, Harley's contributions to the UCMP community went well beyond the discovery and collection of fossils. He was an outstanding teacher of field techniques. Harley instructed generations of students in the techniques needed to successfully collect the skulls of dinosaurs and other large vertebrate fossils. Through his introductions to local landowners, we gained access to private lands that expanded opportunities for both fieldwork and making long lasting friendships.

As a boy, Harley began collecting Native American artifacts and fossils from areas around his family's farm near Hemet in Southern California. After service in World War II, he began to collaborate with Ted Downs (a UCMP graduate) who was on the staff of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. In the 1960s, he was hired to collect specimens of dinosaurs for exhibit. Among the fossils he discovered and helped prepare are three skeletons of Tyrannosaurus illustrating different growth stages of this dinosaur. These have just gone on display in Los Angeles in the Natural History Museum's new dinosaur hall. His archeological collections are now part of the holdings of the Western Science Center at Diamond Valley near Hemet.

Harley's contributions to UCMP and other museums will continue to serve as a lasting and fitting memorial to a great guy, a good friend, and an outstanding field paleontologist. He is missed.

Bill Berry photo © 2000 A. Leviton; Harley Garbani photo by Anne Weil; Harley with Bob Engdahl photo by Mike Greenwald