Oliver P. Pearson, 1915 - 2003
Paynie came to UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate
Zoology at the end of WWII. A mammalogist, he was
particularly interested in mice, and
pursued them far into South America. In the early 1960's
he taught large Zoo 10 classes (introductory zoology
for non-majors) and was well loved by his students.
As an exchange professor at the Universidad de
Buenos Aires in 1964-65, he brought his love of natural
science to a generation of Argentine naturalists, who
carry the torch to this day.
Named Professor Emeritus in 1971, he remained involved
with the MVZ, and continued
active Argentine field work.
He just published a paper on some of this work in January.
El 4 de marzo el corazón que le llevaba a este cazador
humilde de ratones durante 87 años se paró, pero sigue
He will be remembered as a fun and effective lecturer,
a comfortable companion, a diligent mouse trapper,
and a thoughtful student of natural science.
A fine, long description of Paynie's career can be found in
UC Berkeley News.
We welcome your stories, thoughts, or photos.
Te invitamos compartir aquí tus cuentos, pensamientos,
If you would like to contribute material to this web page, please email
it to ppearson at rcn.com (Note: Replace "at" with @ in this address.)
- A reliable source reports that one long-ago morning, Professor Pearson
headed for work with a bundle of letters in one hand and a
peanut-butter sandwich in the other. Passing through the
MVZ outer office, he handed the letters to a secretary for
mailing, and asked her to catch the mailman when he came by
to see if he would retrieve the sandwich from the mailbox on
the sidewalk out front.
(Peter Pearson, Livermore, California)
- When I asked for a copy of his splendid monograph on South
American Phyllotis to Prof. Pearson, he wrote on the cover: "May
the new generation correct the mistakes of the old". I have shown
such inspiring dedicatory to all of my graduate students, since it
includes some of the most valuable human attitudes for any good
scientist or teacher. He was a living portrait of them, and will
remain as such for the rest of our lives. (Angel Spotorno
O., PhD , Profesor Titular , UNIVERSIDAD DE CHILE)
- . . . I feel that I have lost someone special because Paynie's
work on Blarina played an important part in my thinking when I embarked on
my PhD studies. I was so pleased to eventually meet him when I visited
Berkeley in 1985 (or was it 86?) and I have pleasant memories of our picnic
in the hills. I am sure that many mammalogists will mourn his passing.
- . . . He was a
wonderful man, and I have so many fond memories of him. It's hard
to believe that he is no longer trapping, observing, writing,
questioning, discussing, and just continuing to fully enjoy the
world. ... He was a wonderful influence in my life, even if I
spent many years being in awe of him!
- Today is truly a day of mourning for all of us who loved Oliver so
much. Werner and I both feel we were blessed to have known him to
the extent we did. I will never forget our first meeting when
Oliver treated us to lunch at the Good Earth in Berkeley to
discuss our intent to go to Argentina. From the very first, his
generosity and enthusiasm to help others came shining through. We
will miss him dearly. I especially will miss his positive outlook
on life which was mirrored in his marvelous sense of humor and
genuine smile. What a charming man he was. . . . He left us much
to cherish. (Jo Anne Smith-Flueck)
- I was really shocked and saddened to hear of Oliver's death. I
really enjoyed meeting him and Anita, seeing them at the JAM
meetings in Argentina, and talking to them.
I am also grateful for Oliver's help in the only thing I ever asked
of him--getting a home range program. Since I am now using it, I am
continually reminded of him.
- We have received the sad news and send you, on behalf of the Sociedad
Argentina para el Estudio de los Mamiferos (SAREM), our loving
sympathy. Oliver always has been deep in the heart of the Argentinian
community of mammalogist. We will keep forever his memory, not only
because of his outstanding contributions to our discipline, but
because of his exceptional human qualities.
(Cristina Gardenal, President of SAREM)
- I may well owe Paynie my job. Back in 89, I received a letter
inviting me to participate in the Latin American Congress in Zoology in
Montevideo. Only the invitation came without any support to defray the
costs. I replied I could not attend. To my surprise, I got a second
letter a couple of weeks later stating that the money issue had been
cleared and that they were ready to buy me a ticket to attend. On a
separate front, I had applied to a position in our Vertebrate Zoology
section. Although there are no formal interviews in our job competitions
("concursos"), I subsequently learned that an international committee had
been set up and that they had agreed to meet during the congress and,
naturally, check the applicants out should they have presentations. I
quickly learned that Paynie had received an invitation to attend, which
he had turned down while at the same time offering to support my trip.
He also asked this to remain a secret. The secret did not last and
someone told me about it, but until now I respected Paynie's wishes and,
therefore, never thanked him directly.
(Enrique P. Lessa, Laboratorio de Evolución, Montevideo)
- I came across Paynie a couple of years after
returning to Uruguay (having eventually accepted the job mentioned
above). As a definite bookworm, I guess I was ready to answer questions
about things such as the Popperian criteria for defining science, but
Paynie had more pointed questions for me. He simply asked, after
listening to some stupid comments from me about the job: "Do you have a
bug colony?" There is your defining question!
(Enrique P. Lessa, Laboratorio de Evolución, Montevideo)
- Here's a letter from Enrique P. Lessa,
including a 138,000-byte image.
- My heart aches for you and your family. He was a very special person and
will be sorely missed by all who knew him including me. His kindness to me
helped me be kind to others
(Laura Morrison Viale)
Image with Microtus (41,000 bytes)
Cartoon by Alison Pearson (40,000 bytes)