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Woods Hole Geologist Dies in Outing

Charles Hollister, a senior scientist and administrator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, died Monday from a fall while hiking in Wyoming with his family. He was 63.

"Charley was a tremendous intellectual force and one of the most adventurous and imaginative geoscientists I've ever known," says Michael Purdy, head of ocean sciences at the National Science Foundation and a former WHOI colleague. "He had an infectious talent for getting people excited about ocean science."

A prominent marine geologist and accomplished mountain climber, Hollister helped to establish the field of sediment dynamics, which examines the processes that shape the ocean floor. He devised and carried out efforts to extract giant cores that contain a continuous record of as much as 65 million years of ocean basin history in a 30-meter-long sample; he also helped explore the sea floor's suitability as a repository for nuclear and other hazardous wastes. "My fondest memory of Charley is seeing him walk off the Knorr [WHOI's flagship research vessel] with a big smile on his face after having brought back a longer and larger core sediment," recalls John Farrington, a WHOI geochemist and associate director for education.

Hollister, who came to WHOI in 1967, served as dean of graduate studies before becoming vice president in 1989 of the institution's managing corporation, where he worked to build WHOI's endowment. "Charley had a love for life and enjoyed it to the fullest," says WHOI director Robert Gagosian. "His passion and commitment to WHOI and to science will be deeply missed."