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GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 7, PP. 6-8, 1962

Memorial to Edward C. Thiel, 1928–1961

George P. Woollard

Geophysical & Polar Research Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.


On November 9, 1961, the career of one of the nation's most promising younger scientists, Edward C. Thiel, came to a tragic end as the result of an airplane crash in Antarctica. Ed Thiel early distinguished himself as a leader of men who also had that indefinable quality which distinguishes a true scientist. It is indeed ironic that he lost his life on a flight that was of a routine character after having participated for two Antarctic seasons in an airlifted geophysical program that involved considerable risk in landings and takeoffs from the ice cap in areas never before visited by man. He died a sudden and merciful, but none the less tragic death, just after completing the gravity connection and a magnetic traverse between the Soviet base at Mirny and Wilkes Station. Ed Thiel joins the ranks of other polar immortals who lost their lives in the advancement of science, and as such will long be remembered. The tragedy of his passing, however, is the more poignant because of his youth, the short time that he had in which to enjoy the satisfactions of having a home of his own, the love of his wife, his new job as a teacher and graduate student mentor at the University of Minnesota. Ed Thiel had enthusiasm and singleness of purpose which inspired others who worked with him to put forth their best efforts. Whatever he undertook, he devoted his all. It was the writer's privilege to have had Ed Thiel both as an undergraduate and graduate student. It was his joy and satisfaction to see him develop, assume responsibility and become recognized as a scientist of considerable stature, and it is now his sad privilege to write a few inadequate words to commemorate him just as he was embarking into the fullness of his life.

Citation: Woollard, G. P. (1962), Memorial to Edward C. Thiel, 1928–1961, in Antarctic Research: The Matthew Fontaine Maury Memorial Symposium, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 7, edited by H. Wexler, M. J. Rubin, and J. E. Caskey Jr., pp. 6–8, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/GM007p0006.

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