James Hornig

Published: 6/20/2017 3:00:09 AM
Modified: 6/20/2017 3:00:12 AM

Hanover, N.H. — James Hornig died Monday, June 12, 2017, at Kendal at the age of 88, with family by his side. Jim was born in 1929, in Milwaukee, Wisc., son of Edna and Herbert Hornig. He attended Harvard College, where he majored in Chemistry and Physics, then the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received his PhD in 1954. In Madison he met and married his fellow graduate student Evalyn Ortelt. They were married 61 years, until her death in 2014.

After a year of post-doctoral research in Germany on a National Science Foundation grant, Jim’s career briefly took him into industry at DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware. Academia soon called him back, first as assistant professor at UC Riverside, and then to Dartmouth College in 1962. During his time at Dartmouth he served as a Professor of Chemistry, Associate Dean of Faculty for the Sciences, and as the first Dean of Graduate Studies. He retired from full time teaching and other duties in 1997, but continued for many years to teach a first year seminar focusing on issues of population and sustainability.

Jim’s primary focus at Dartmouth was Environmental Studies. He was instrumental in setting up the Dartmouth Environmental Studies program in 1970, one of the first such programs in the country. The program has an interdisciplinary curriculum, including courses in social studies and humanities as well as the natural sciences. He chaired the program from 1974 to 1992. In 1983 he introduced the popular Foreign Studies Semester in Kenya, which he led five times between 1983 and 1993. The Hornig Library of Environmental Studies was dedicated in 1997.

After his retirement from Dartmouth, Jim shifted his focus to local environmental issues, working with the Hanover Planning Board and serving as President of the Hanover Conservation Council (now the Hanover Conservancy). In 2005, the Slade Brook Jim and Evalyn Hornig Natural Area was dedicated in Hanover.

Jim and Evalyn raised thee children. The first born was David, who predated Jim and Evalyn’s PhD degrees in Madison. Doug followed during their time in Delaware, and Linda in California.

Beyond devotion to family and career, Jim loved traveling. He and Evalyn enjoyed sailing and exploring many different parts of the world, though Evalyn declined to accompany him on some of his more daring adventures such as canoeing on rivers in the Alaskan and Canadian wilderness.

Jim inspired everyone he met with his optimism, patience, love of teaching, love of life, and love of the great world around him.

Jim is predeceased by Evalyn, his beloved wife of 61 years. He is survived by his brother Howard of Castro Valley, Calif.; son David of Oakmont, Pa. (fiancé Ellen York), son Douglas of Etna, N.H. (wife Rebecca Spiegel); daughter Linda of Pownal, Maine (husband Peter Woodrow); granddaughter Claire Hornig of Etna; and his cat George.

A memorial service will be held on Aug. 5 at 3 p.m. in the Gathering Room at Kendal in Hanover.

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