Paleonet: Robert DeMar

Roy Plotnick plotnick at
Thu Apr 26 15:45:09 GMT 2007

I regret to inform the community of the passing of my colleague Robert 
DeMar on Saturday April 21.

Robert E. DeMar  was a vertebrate paleontologist and one of the founding 
faculty of the geology department of the University of Illinois at 
Chicago. He joined the university in 1956, when it was still at Navy 
Pier, as assistant in charge of the introductory geology laboratories. 
Bob remained at UIC throughout his career, rising to the rank of 
Professor and serving as head of the Department of Geological Sciences 
(now Earth and Environmental Sciences) from 1979 to 1986, retiring in 
1997.   He was a key person in the transformation of the Department and 
University from its origins at Navy Pier to a world-class teaching and 
research institution.
Born in 1931, DeMar was proud to be the son of marathoner Clarence 
DeMar, the winner of seven Boston Marathons, and bronze medalist at the 
1924 Paris Olympics.  Bob was stricken with polio in his late teens, 
which affected him through the rest of his life. He overcame this 
obstacle to receive a bachelor's degree from Harvard (1953) and a M.S. 
(1960) and PhD (1961) from the University of Chicago, where he studied 
with  Everett C. Olson. Bob's research interests were in Paleozoic and 
Mesozoic reptiles and amphibians; he was particularly interested in the 
evolution of their teeth and jaws, including their functional anatomy 
and patterns of tooth replacement.
DeMar was instrumental in the development of geology instruction at UIC. 
In 1958, he initiated a spring-break field trip to the Missouri Ozarks, 
an experience that remains integral to geology undergraduate education 
at UIC today. During that first trip, he met Mary Louise ("Marylou") 
Ratal, who he married a year later. DeMar also developed the 
introductory geology laboratories at UIC, which were unique for their 
"hands-on" components and also continue to be used today. His use of the 
Socratic method became an integral part of the undergraduate teaching in 
the Department.  He also taught courses in paleontology and field 
geology.  DeMar was held in high esteem by his colleagues and students.
Bob and Marylou were active in local politics and worked as precinct 
captains and contributors to the Chicago 4th Ward Democratic 
organization. He was also an enthusiastic dog owner. Marylou DeMar died 
August 23, 2001; they had no children. He is survived by three sisters 
and many nieces and nephews.

Roy E. Plotnick
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Chicago
845 W. Taylor St.
Chicago, IL 60607

E-mail: plotnick at

office phone: 312-996-2111     fax: 312-413-2279
lab phone: 312-355-1342

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"The scientific celebrities, forgetting their molluscs and glacial periods, gossiped about art, while devoting themselves to oysters and ices with characteristic energy.." -Little Women, Louisa  May Alcott 

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