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George Marion Ehlers
LSA Minutes

1891 - 1976

Professor Emeritus George Marion Ehlers in best remembered among geologists of North America as the authority on Silurian stratigraphy of the Michigan Basin; among paleontologists of the world, he was famous for his work with Paleozoic corals; and among his many friends and colleagues at The University of Michigan, he was renowned for his scholarship and devotion to field investigations.

He was born on St. Patrick's Day of 1891 in Baltimore, Maryland. To distinguish him from his father, George H. Ehlers, he was first called "G. M." and this became condensed to "Jim," the name by which he was familiarly know.

Jim came to the university in 1913, and in December of that year married Mabel Allen. She survives, with their three children: Allen of Midland, Texas; John of St. Louis; and Mrs. Priscilla Fischer of Dexter; at his death, Jim had seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Ehlers started the University's summer camp program in geology, and served as its director for many years. It was located at Mill Springs, Ky., from 1924 to 1936, and moved to State Bridge, Colorado, from 1937 to 1942. Jim also directed field work at Camp Davis in Wyoming, where the present summer camp is situated.

In the academic field, he organized the first curriculum in invertebrate paleontology in 1919, and supervised the graduate programs of many students in that area. In research, he was given the title of Curqtor of Paleozoic Invertebrates in 1928, and continued to add well-documented and carefully catalogued specimens to the collections of the Museum of Paleontology throughout his career. In 1942 he was appointed by former University President Alexander G. Ruthven to serve on the editorial board of the Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology.

Professor Ehlers gave generously of his time in organizing numerous field excursions for the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters and for the Michigan Basin Geological Society. In 1951 he led the annual field trip for the Geological Society of America. He authored a number of scientific articles on paleontology and stratigraphy of Michigan and adjacent areas, and also served as consultant to United States Steel Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and several cement industries in locating suitable reserves of high-grade limestone.

Jim was active in several scientific societies, including the Paleontological Society, of which he was former vice president; the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters, of which he was section chairman; Michigan Basin Geological Society, which honored him with a special dedication for one of its annual excursions; the Geological Society of America, Science Research Club, AAAS, Sigma Xi, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Gamut a Alpha, and the Ohio Academy of Science.

Professor Ehlers will long be remembered for his masterful interpretation of the significance of Silurian rocks and fossils, his dedication to sound principles of geology and paleontology, his perseverance in seeking truth, and his humility in assessing his own achievements. He gave patient help and generous share of his wisdom to his students and associates in stratigraphic investigations. Above all, he was a gracious gentleman and a loyal friend to the many who were fortunate enough to share his advancement of the science of paleontology.

Robert V. Kesling