Madison - Robert (Bob) H. Dott, Jr. died February 27, 2018 after battling lymphoma for 11 years. Bob was born June 2, 1929 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Robert and Esther (Reed) Dott. The family moved to Norman, Oklahoma in 1935. He attended elementary through high school in Norman. Beginning at age 10 he first spent three summers as a camper and then three more as a counselor in summer camps in Colorado and New Mexico which began a love affair with the Rocky Mountains. He began college at the University of Oklahoma and then followed both his grandfather and father to the University of Michigan. He graduated from Michigan in 1950 (BS) and 1951 (MS). At Ann Arbor he met his wife, Nancy, in a geology class. They were married February 1, 1951 in Farmington, Michigan. The newlyweds soon moved to New York where Bob entered a PhD program at Columbia University. The couple spent two summers in Nevada doing field research, which began the close partnership of their entire 67 years together.
During two years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Bob participated in several Arctic research projects. After the Air Force, he worked in the petroleum industry in Oregon and California for three years. In 1958 he accepted a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin from which he retired in 1994. He was delighted to join a major university at age 29. Bob's academic career focused primarily on sedimentology, tectonics, and the evolution of the Earth. He conducted research in Wisconsin's Baraboo Hills, Oregon, Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia Island, and Antarctica. In 1971 Bob co-authored with Roger Batten a textbook of earth history, Evolution of the Earth, (now co-authored with D.R. Prothero). Royalties from this book helped pay college tuition for his five children.
During his first years of teaching, Bob led a two-month summer field course vagabonding around the West where geology is raw. The five Dott children grew up camping and beach combing during those summers. Bob enjoyed being able to have his family with him on those trips.
Over his 36 years at the University of Wisconsin, Bob worked with many MS and PhD students, and several post-doctoral fellows. He and his students studied sediments deposited in nearly every environment from ancient Sahara sands to deep seas. He continued close relationships with many of his former students up until his death.
Later in his career Bob developed a deep interest in the history of geology. He created a course in the subject and published studies of several important geologists. After retiring from teaching Bob continued to contribute to the history of geology and to the knowledge of Wisconsin geology. In 2004 he and co-author John W. Attig published Roadside Geology of Wisconsin.
In 1964 the growing Dott family built a home in an abandoned stone quarry next to Madison's Hoyt Park. They named it the Cambrian Lodge because the sandstones upon which the house stands were formed during the geological Cambrian Period half a billion years ago. Being composed entirely of the mineral quartz, they also inspired an easily remembered name for the family's auto license, "Quartz."
Throughout his life Bob traveled widely and visited every continent including Antarctica and Greenland. At home the family enjoyed nature with the guidance of naturalist Nancy. Bob sang in the First Unitarian Society choir for many years. He and Nancy enjoyed attending plays and concerts in the Madison area. They were long time supporters of the American Players Theater, Friends of the Arboretum, and the First Unitarian Society.
Bob instilled in his children a sense of independence, an interest in nature, and a love of learning. He infected all of them with the "travel bug." He kept an active interest in the lives of his nine grandchildren and his sons and daughters-in-law.
Bob is survived by his five children, James (Ann), Karen (Bill), Eric (Debbie), Cynthia (Gary), and Brian(Sally), nine grandchildren, Kelly, Michael, Gregory, Cori, Gordon, Collin, Helena, Mei Li, and Alex, a sister, Esther (Bobette) Bird, and Dinesh Gunatilaka who became a member of the family. Peter Iselin (deceased), an AFS student from Switzerland, was also a beloved member of the family.
A memorial service will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the First Unitarian Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts are suggested to the First Unitarian Society, American Players Theater, or the University of Wisconsin Foundation's Robert and Nancy Dott Geoscience Fund. The family thanks the wonderful staff of Oakwood Village, Hospice Agrace, BrightStar, and Comfort Keepers for their many services.
First Unitarian Society of Madison
900 University Bay Dr,
Madison WI, 53705
American Players Theatre
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Robert and Nancy Dott Geoscience Fund
University of Wisconsin Foundation
1848 University Ave,
Madison, WI 53726
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison
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