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Laurence Hewitt Nobles

April 24, 2018

Photo of Larry Nobles LecturingThe Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is sad to inform all the alumni that Larry Nobles, Professor emeritus of Geological Sciences since 1990, passed away on April 1, 2018, at his home in Port Ludlow, Washington.

Larry was born in Spokane, Washington, on September 28, 1927, and saw active military service as a US Navy Aviation Cadet in 1945-1946. His professional education was at California Institute of Technology (BS and MS in Geophysics, 1949) and at Harvard (Ph.D. in Geology, 1952). His Doctoral Dissertation completed in 1952 was entitled “Glacial geology of the Mission Valley, western Montana”.

Larry’s academic career at Northwestern began in 1952, culminating as Professor of Geological Sciences until his retirement in 1990. His research was in the field of geomorphology and the effects of active glaciers in Greenland and Alaska on landforms. His first published paper was co-authored with Robert P. Sharp, of Caltech: “Mudflow of 1941 at Wrightwood, Southern California”, Geol. Soc. America Bull. 64(5), 547-560 (1953).

Since the mid-1960s, Professor Nobles moved to a series of administrative positions within the University: Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1966-1970; Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1970-1972; Dean of Administration, 1972 -1981; and Vice President for Administration and Financial Planning, 1981-1986. In the late 1980s, Larry joined the Department of Anthropology, while maintaining his title of Professor of Geological Sciences through his retirement in 1990.

Larry Nobles’ public activities included service as Trustee of the Adler Planetarium, Chicago, 1980 – 1986; Trustee of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 1967 – 1987; President of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 1973 – 1978; Honorary Trustee of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 1987 – 2018.

 His wife of 69 years, Barbara Joanne, son Larry, daughter Heather, and granddaughter Liesl survive him. All in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences express their sincere condolences to the Nobles family. Back to top