Richard W. Garvine, 67, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware, died Dec. 10, at his home in Landenberg, Penn.
A native of Pottstown, Penn., Garvine received a bachelor's in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961 and a doctoral in mechanical and aerospace science from Princeton University in 1965. After four years working in industry as a theoretical aerodynamicist, he set his course for oceanography and began his academic career as an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut in 1969.
Garvine joined the University of Delaware in 1977 and quickly established an unparalleled reputation as an innovative researcher and instructor. Nancy Targett, dean of UD's College of Marine and Earth Studies, said, "Rich Garvine's approach to his science and to his life was an inspiration to all who knew him. He had an insatiable curiosity that extended well beyond his field of fluid dynamics and touched on areas as diverse as music, history and farming."
Garvine was widely considered a pioneer and international authority in the field of coastal physical oceanography. While most physical oceanographers in the early 1970s studied the blue waters of the deep ocean, Garvine and only a small handful of his peers focused on coastal waters.
His research on coastal fronts and river plumes made him one of the foremost scientists in his field. With more than 65 articles in refereed literature, he put his stamp on the discipline of coastal oceanography.
Garvine engaged in interdisciplinary research long before the term became entrenched in academe. His work with biologists, for example, led to a sizable body of information that has been of great value to blue crab fisheries managers in the mid-Atlantic region.
He continued to explore emerging areas of research throughout his career. Most recently, he was co-leader of a University of Delaware working group exploring the prospects of offshore wind as an alternative energy source.
Garvine's groundbreaking research comprised only one aspect to a distinguished career. A longtime leader in the College of Marine and Earth Studies, he was instrumental in establishing the college's Physical Ocean Sciences and Engineering Program, chairing the working group that developed the program and serving as the program's first director.
He was an exemplary mentor to many students, 28 of whom have earned or are in the process of earning post-graduate degrees. In 1985, he received the University's Excellence in Teaching Award, an honor typically bestowed to faculty who carry a heavy undergraduate, rather than graduate, teaching load.
For Garvine, making time for the next generation of oceanographers was always a given. He encouraged his students to continue his practice of interdisciplinary collaborations.
"It's a natural because the students are involved in the projects," he said in a 2007
interview. "There's a lot of mutual benefit. As a result, a lot of them got to be very good researchers."
Prior to his passing, Garvine was named the 2007 Bostwick H. Ketchum Award recipient from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. The award, which is presented only every two to four years, goes to scientists worldwide who demonstrate an innovative approach to coastal research, leadership in the scientific community and who provide a link between coastal research and societal issues.
A reception celebrating Garvine's latest recognition was held Nov. 16, 2007, at the University of Delaware. More than 100 of his former students, peers, collaborators, friends and family attended the event to celebrate the career of a man they universally recognize as a gentleman, a scholar and an innovator.
Garvine is survived by his wife of 41 years, Virginia B. Garvine; a son, Randolph E. Garvine of West Chester, Penn.; a daughter, Marcia A. Vandervort of Charlestown, Penn.; and a sister, Sandra Bergeman of Gilbertsville, Penn.
A memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Newark on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 11:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the National Parkinson's Foundation via the R.T. Foard and Jones Funeral Home, 122 West Main Street, Newark, DE, 19711. Contributions may also be made via the foundation's web site.