- © 2016 American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists
Professor Alfred (‘Al’) Traverse passed away following a long illness at 90 years of age on September 15th 2015 at Juniper Village, State College, Pennsylvania, USA. With his death, the twin sciences of palaeobotany and palynology have lost one of their most influential and productive of practitioners and teachers. He had a stellar student career, was a coal petrologist, an industrial palynologist and held parallel positions in the Episcopal (Anglican) church. However he is principally defined by his 30-year tenure as a professor at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) from 1966 to his full retirement in 1996. Al was an incredibly diverse scientist; the topics of his numerous research papers are highly eclectic. He demonstrated a truly polymathic approach to palaeobotany and palynology. Most notably, he published two editions of the only single-author textbook ever published in English on pre-Quaternary palynology. This short article seeks to celebrate and document Al’s fascinating, fulfilling, long and productive life, hence it is designated as both a biography and an obituary. The authors have drawn on their collective memories, Al’s publications, online information and other obituaries such as Anonymous (2015) and Rich & Strother (2015).
2. Childhood and schooling (1925–1943)
Alfred Traverse was born on the 7th of September (Labor Day) 1925 at St. James Anglican rectory in Port Hill, Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was always known as Al to everyone, and was the son of the Reverend A. Freeman Traverse, a priest in the Episcopal church. His mother was Pearle Akerley Traverse, who was a dietician and schoolteacher. In 1926 the Traverse family moved to Lucknow in southern Ontario, and then to Allegan, Michigan, USA in 1928. Al never moved back to Canada, and he became a naturalised United …