Published in The Daily Camera from Dec. 25, 2016 to Jan. 1, 2017
Erle Kauffman 1933 - 2016
Erle Galen Kauffman, 83, former Professor (1980-1996) and Chair (1980-1984), Department
of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, died peacefully at home December
16 after a long illness. Honored for his many contributions to the Geological and
Paleontological sciences, Erle also was acknowledged as a master teacher, researcher and
mentor, advancing the education of many through his passion for learning, rigorous science,
and generosity of ideas. At the time of his death, Erle was Professor Emeritus, Geological
Sciences, Indiana University, where he held a position since 1996.
Born and raised in the Washington DC area, Erle received his undergraduate and graduate
education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was awarded a Doctorate in
Geological Sciences in 1961. Subsequently, Erle built a 20 year career with the US National
Museum, Smithsonian Institution, where he ultimately held the position of Full Curator,
Department of Paleobiology. During that tenure, Erle also served as Adjunct Professor of
Geology, George Washington University, Washington DC. Erle received many honors, both as
scientist and educator. He was recognized with an Honorary Master of Science from Oxford
University, England (1970), where he was a Visiting Professor, and an Honorary Doctor of
Natural Sciences in 1987 from Georg-August-Universitat, Gottingen, Germany, and in 1986 as
a Fulbright Visiting Scholar to Australia. In 1991 the Society for Sedimentary Geology
awarded Erle the R.C. Moore Medal for Excellence in Paleontology, and in 1997 he was
honored with the Gilbert Harris Award for Lifetime Excellence in Systematic Paleontology from
the Paleontological Research Institution. Additionally, Erle was recognized with The Society
for Sedimentary Geology's W.H. Twenhofel Medal for Outstanding Contributions and
Sustained Excellence in Sedimentary Geology in 1998, and more recently with the
Paleontological Society's Medal for Advancement in Knowledge in Paleontology in 2014. Erle
was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the
American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served in leadership roles in many
of the professional organizations of which he was a member, notably as President of the
Paleontological Society, and Vice President of the International Paleontological Association.
Erle lived life fully and with great heart, exploring, adventuring, playing as hard as he worked.
His love of the Rocky Mountains drew him both professionally and personally. Erle was an
experienced hiker, backpacker, climber, skier and an avid fly fisherman, and these adventures
were an integral part of the Family life he shared with his beloved wife and colleague Claudia
Johnson, his former wife Carolyn Kauffman, and their children Donald, Robin and Erica. Erle
was an accomplished banjo player, and was known, particularly by his students, for gatherings
famous for good food, good wine, good music, good conversation and camaraderie.
Erle is survived by his wife of 27 years Claudia C. Johnson; his three children: Donald
(Kathleen) of Sydney, Australia, Robin of Paonia, CO, and Erica (Jim) Lancaster of Atlanta,
GA; six grandchildren: Shelley, Christopher, Anna, Tucker, Tate, and Reed; former wife
Carolyn (Stinebower) Kauffman of Redstone, CO; and his sister Christina Kauffman of
Erle was preceded in death by his parents: Erle B. Kauffman and Paula V. (Graff) Kauffman.
To honor Erle's legacy, please consider donating to the Erle G. Kauffman fund at th
Paleontological Society, the Erle Kauffman Paleobiology Fund at the Department of
Geological Sciences, Indiana University, or to Indiana University Health Hospice.
A private memorial will be held to celebrate Erle's life.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.DayDeremiahFrye.com