James Robert (Bob) Dodd (85) of Bloomington, Indiana died on September 15, 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico of complications following a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. He was born on March 11, 1934 in Bloomington, Indiana to James Edgar and Margaret Elizabeth (Hatcher) Dodd. He was a paleoecologist and emeritus professor at Indiana University. Author of a classic book on paleoecology, he was a leader in the application of stable isotope analysis to reconstruction of ancient environments.
He grew up in Bloomington, working as a boy in his father’s business, the Wigwam restaurant. He attended Bloomington High School, where he joined what would become three lifelong friends to perform as the Originaires Quartet, an all-male singing group. He graduated from Bloomington High School in 1952 and enrolled at Indiana University, where after starting as a government pre-law major, he continued his undergraduate studies in the Geology Department. In 1955, he became the fourth-ever recipient of the Geology Department’s Faculty Senior Award and received his BA degree in 1956 and his MA degree in 1957.
While attending IU, he met the love of his life and future wife, Margaret Joann Emerson, on a blind date arranged by her roommate and his best friend. Truly a match made in heaven, she was the first and only person he ever dated. They were married on August 19, 1956 in Owensville, Indiana and celebrated 59 years in wedded bliss before Joann’s death on April 6, 2016. After the wedding, they moved to Pasadena, CA, where he pursued his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology, graduating in 1961.
Bob and Joann moved to Houston, Texas in 1961 where he worked at the Texaco Research Laboratories for two years. Their elder son Mark Alan Dodd was born in Houston in 1963. Having always wanted to be a college faculty member and researcher, they moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1963 where he obtained his first professorship at Case Western Reserve University. Their second son, Paul Emerson Dodd was born in Cleveland in 1966. Bob and family returned to Bloomington in 1966, where he served as a professor in the Indiana University Geology Department for the remainder of his professional career. At IU, he loved teaching and advising students, performing research with graduate students and his long-time collaborator and fellow Cal Tech student Robert Stanton, and served as Department Chair from 1987-1990. He coauthored a textbook with Stanton on concepts and applications of paleoecology, and with continued extensive research and publications on the topic established himself firmly in the first rank of North American paleoecologists. He retired in December 1997 after thirty-one years of dedicated service to IU, the Bloomington community, and the geological profession.
He was an avid runner, cyclist, gardener, and birder. He was a multiple-time class winner in Bloomington’s annual Spring Running Festival, participated several times in the Louisville Mini-Marathon, and ran regularly with a devoted group of friends. With his family, he cycled across the country from New Orleans, LA to Sault Sainte Marie, MI in the early 1980’s. In retirement, he spent many hours tending his beloved rose garden at his house in Bloomington and countless hours birding at Goose Pond and elsewhere with his good friends from the Sassafras Audubon Society. He was a lifelong learner, reading throughout his life and volunteering with the Monroe County Historical Society, the American Red Cross, and the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. He and his wife traveled extensively, visiting all the continents except Antarctica. In 2014, he and Joann moved to Meadowood Retirement Community where they enjoyed giving presentations on their world travels and working in the greenhouse. He was a very longtime member of First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, serving the church in many capacities and treasuring many dear friendships there. He moved to Albuquerque, NM in April 2017, a year after Joann’s death to be close to his sons. Due to his friendly and playful personality, he quickly made many friends in his new home and was very active in his retirement community’s activities until his sudden illness.
He is survived by his sister, Mary Constable; his brother James Bruce (Nancy) Dodd; two sons, Mark Alan (Julie) Dodd and Paul Emerson (Melanie) Dodd; two granddaughters, Gabriella Seal and Anastasia Dodd; two grandsons, Brian Dodd and Kyle Dodd; and one great-grandson Corvus Seal.
A memorial service will take place at the First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, Indiana in Spring of 2020 with the date to be determined. Memorial contributions can be sent to First Presbyterian Church, Bloomington.