Franklin C. Daiber, professor emeritus of marine studies at the University of Delaware and one of the College of Marine Studies’ first scientists, died Thursday, March 6, 2003. He was 83.
Dr. Daiber earned his bachelor’s degree from Alfred University in Alfred, New York, in 1941 and began his graduate work at Michigan State University in the fall of that year. He interrupted his studies in 1943 to serve in World War II for three years as an aerial photo interpreter in the European Theater, Germany, rising to the rank of captain. He then returned to Michigan State, where he received his master’s degree in zoology in 1947.
After receiving his doctorate in hydrobiology in 1950 from Ohio State University, he taught at Alfred University for three years. His research interests during this time focused on the ecology of fishes in the upland streams of western New York State.
In the summer of 1952, Dr. Daiber joined the faculty of UD’s Department of Biological Sciences, becoming one of the first faculty to teach marine science at UD. In this capacity, he was responsible for developing a program in ichthyology and fisheries with an emphasis on graduate student training.
Dr. Daiber was made acting director of UD’s marine laboratories in 1967 and director in 1968. As chairman of the University President’s Marine Science Coordinating Committee, he was a leading force in establishing UD’s College of Marine Studies. He was transferred to the new college at its inception in 1970. During his tenure at UD, he was elected to Phi Kappa Phi, one of the nation’s oldest and largest honor societies.
His interests over the years included sportfishing surveys, the life history and ecological studies of various fish species and selected invertebrates, and tidal marsh ecology. Extended periods of his time were spent studying the salt marshes of the eastern United States and the Bay of Fundy marshes in Nova Scotia, as well as marshes in England, Iceland, Newfoundland, and Baffin Island.
In 1983, he was part of a cultural exchange between UD and Panama to enhance the production of shrimp farming. He also was the resident ichthyologist on three exploratory trips in the North Atlantic and was the author of numerous papers and two books dealing with the animals and conservation of Atlantic tidal marshes.
Dr. Daiber was well known for his activity on numerous committees and boards. He served as a member of the federal Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, the Governor’s Council on Science and Technology, the Governor’s Wetlands Action Committee, the Governor’s Environmental Legacy Program, the Freshwater Wetlands Roundtable, and the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation’s National Areas Advisory Council. In addition, he was the Governor’s appointee to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and was chairman of the Advisory Council on Tidal Finfisheries.
After more than 33 years of service and advising over 70 master’s and doctoral degree candidates, Dr. Daiber retired in 1987. For his retirement, the College of Marine Studies held a symposium and dinner to celebrate his many achievements and years of tireless service. In addition, the graduate student housing complex in Lewes was dedicated in his honor.
Dr. Daiber was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Newark, Delaware, where he served as a deacon and chaired the Troop Committee for Boy Scout Troop 56 during the 1970s. He later served as Boy Scout Coordinator at First Presbyterian. Through his son’s involvement in Boy Scouts, he was inspired to participate in winter camp-outs, becoming an avid hiker of the Appalachian Trail.
He was fascinated by his natural surroundings, which complemented his long-term interest in photography. Whether camping with his family in New England, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or conducting research in a salt marsh, Dr. Daiber could always be found with a camera and a book or two in his backpack.
In 1996, he and his wife, Joanne Currier Daiber, published a small book describing 56 of the most significant trees on the Cornwall Manor campus, a retirement community in Cornwall, Pennsylvania, where he and his wife resided. Most recently, Dr. Daiber and his wife co-authored Salty Memoirs: Adventures in Marine Science, a two-book set that captures the fascinating story behind UD’s College of Marine Studies. At his death, he was working on a new book of wildflower photographs.
His wife, Joanne C., sons Steven C. and Gregory A., granddaughter, Hayden Lillian Daiber, niece, Valerie Hoppenstedt, and nephews Phillip and Carl Ruhmshottel, survive Dr. Daiber. A memorial service was held Monday, March 10, at Cornwall Manor. Another service is planned for June in Newark, Delaware.
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes that contributions be made to the Joanne C. Daiber Fellowship fund, Graduate College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716.