In Memorium: Prof. Emeritus George Devries Klein

Posted on 05.11.2018
George Klein 2013 Photo

George Klein was born in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1933. The Klein family moved to Australia in 1939 and then to the United States in 1947, where George subsequently earned three degrees in geology, his bachelor’s at Wesleyan University, a master’s from the University of Kansas, and his doctorate at Yale, in 1960. George’s academic career began with a faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh. He moved on to the University of Pennsylvania, and finally to Illinois, where he served on the faculty between 1970 and 1993. After leaving Illinois, George became President of the New Jersey Marine Science Consortium and State Sea Grant Director of the New Jersey Sea Grant College Program; he then returned to geology, developing a consulting firm in Houston and working widely both nationally and internationally. At the time of his death, George was living in retirement in Guam with his wife, Suyon Cheong Klein.

George worked broadly in sedimentary geology, sedimentary petrology, and basin analysis. He was particularly proud of his recognition of the significance of tidal processes in the geologic record, and of the coining of the word “Tidalite” for tidally-dominated deposits; although much of this work was focused on clastic settings, George extended his work to carbonates. George published 160 refereed titles during his career, and he received thirteen national and international awards for his research

At Illinois, George was a rigorous and demanding teacher, and his students benefited greatly from his knowledge and breadth of experience. As one former student put it, George was "a man of strong convictions, and who sometimes caused turmoil in his wake.” He supervised 7 PhD, 5 external PhD, 14 MS and 5 affiliated research students, many of whom attained significant and influential accomplishments during their own careers. His teaching abilities began at the undergraduate level, with Joan Crockett (BS, ’83), for example, commenting "Sedimentology with George made me think about the world in a different way, and it was the most beneficial course I took in terms of working in geology and oil and gas.” Dave Heidlauf (MS, 1985) described George as a gifted sedimentologist who challenged his students to think critically and independently, and to make lasting, publishable contributions. Bruce Phillips (MS, 1986) thought it an honor to have studied with George. Jim Castle (PhD, 1978) found George’s personal style of teaching led to his learning a great deal. Jim was struck by George’s smile and upbeat demeanor during George’s later years, and he was grateful and honored to have known George.