John Tipton Lonsdale – Colonel, United States Army



John Tipton Lonsdale died suddenly, of a heart attack at his home in Austin, Texas,
October 5, 1960, at the age of sixty-four. He bad been Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology and Professor of Geology at The University of Texas for fifteen years and was active on the campus up to two days before his death. He is survived by his wife, Edna Gertrude Lonsdale, Austin, Texas; a sister, Miss Bernice Lonsdale, Holly Hill, Florida; and a, brother, Richard R. Lonsdale, Daytona Beach, Florida.

Born at Dale, Iowa, November 8, 1895, Dr. Lonsdale was the oldest son of Eva Mary
(Connor) and John Dye Lonsdale. He completed his elementary education at Dale, Iowa, and his high-school education at Guthrie Center High School. He was awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1917, the Master of Science degree in 1921, both from the University of Iowa, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1924 from the University of Virginia.

His distinguished professional career began in 1921 as Assistant Professor of Geology at the University of Virginia and Geologist for the Virginia Geological Survey. He moved to Norman, Oklahoma) in 1924 to become Assistant Professor of Geology at the University of Oklahoma and Geologist for the Oklahoma Geological Survey, and in 1925 he came to The University of Texas as Geologist in the Bureau of Economic Geology. In 1928 he became Professor of Geology and Head of the Department of Geology, Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas at College Station, Texas. He was the leader in developing a strong geology curriculum at College Station and was chiefly responsible for the planning and design of a new geology building on that campus. While at College Station he was geologist for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. From Texas he went to the Iowa State College at Ames where, except for military
leave, he stayed from 1935 to 1945 as Professor of Geology and Head of the Department of Geology. He returned to Austin in 1945 to rejoin The University of Texas as Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology and Professor of Geology with graduate rank.

Following service in the United States Army as Lieutenant from 1917-19, wherein he was cited for bravery, Dr. Lonsdale developed a strong interest in military affairs and was active as a reserve officer between World Wars I and II. He served in the Army again from 1942 to 1945 as Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel and continued his interest in reserve activities even while holding the rank of a retired officer. He was a staunch patriot. In recognition of his services to his country, his ashes were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to his professional and military careers, he was active in the Austin Rotary
Club. He was also an outdoorsman and a gun collector and participated with friends of similar inclination in numerous deer and antelope hunting expeditions. Among his closest friends of long-standing acquaintance was a group of well-known University colleagues and Austin professional men who together have held a deer lease for more than fifteen years. Dr. Lonsdale was well known as a delightful companion in camp, a stimulating but modest conversationalist, and, as some have put it, “in every way was a swell guy.” Those who knew him well recognized him as a genuinely humble man.
Dr. Lonsdale was a member of a long list of scientific and honorary societies including
Sigma Xi, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, American Geophysical Union, Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists. He was a Fellow of The Geological Society of America, the Mineralogical Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served his professional societies faithfully by working on various committees such as Committee for Stratigraphic Nomenclature of the American State Geologists, the Research, Business, and Well Sample Committees of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Committee for Nomination of Fellows of the Mineralogical Society of America, and the Policy and Administrative Committee of The Geological Society of America. He also served on various official committees including the Texas Topographic Mapping Advisory Committee, Mapping Committee of the Texas Water Conservation Association, Geology and Minerals Committee of the Arkansas and Red River Interagency Committee, Texas Advisory Committee on Conservation
Education, and the National Resources Committee of the Houston Chamber of Commerce.

His contributions to geologic research ranged from detailed analyses of complex rock and mineral systems to the economic geology of many different industrial mineral products. Among his specialties were investigations of ground-water resources and the general geology of the Big Bend National Park. His geological investigations of the Park were nearly complete at the time of his death and will be published as part of the comprehensive report on the geology of the Big Bend Park. His work also had a strong practical slant toward economic geology. During his years as Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, he began a program of investigation of the State's
mineral resources, concentrating on minerals other than oil and gas. The full importance of this work to the development of Texas and the diversification of its industrial base has yet to be realized, but in the future it will be ranked as one of his greatest contributions.

Dr. Lonsdale had a way of developing a strong bond with his students that endured long after they left the classroom. Many of these students have risen to high places in the scientific and business world. Because of their deep affection and esteem for him, they continued to visit and correspond with Dr. Lonsdale through the years and up to the time of his death. Many came hundreds of miles to pay their last respect and many have written sincere tributes to his influence through the years. Among the important tasks assigned to him by University officials shortly after returning to The University of Texas in 1945 was to aid in the recruiting and building of an outstanding
Department of Geology. He served on the Department's Budget Council during those difficult years, and his counsel and guidance had a marked effect on the Departments growth.

Not only was Dr. Lonsdale a distinguished man in the geological profession, but also he was admired and trusted by all who worked with him. To his associates, the quality, which set him apart, was complete and unswerving integrity. He was devoted to his wife; they were married more than 40 years. The loss of this man cannot be measured. His memory will remain as an example of how a man should live his life.

Samuel P. Ellison, Jr., Chairman
H. H. Power
James R. E. Eddy
P. T. Flawn


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 11/08/1895
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/04/1960
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 10/18/1960

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