Facebook Twitter



With the death this week of Dr. William Lee Stokes at 79, Utah has lost not only a highly distinguished scientist, but also a stimulating teacher, penetrating thinker and prolific writer.

Long prominent nationally as well as locally in earth science, Stokes accumulated an impressive list of credentials far too long and well-known to be completely recited here.To mention just a few highlights, he taught geology at the University of Utah from 1947 until his retirement in 1980, helped create the first statewide geological map of Utah, authored many articles and books, including two volumes that were standard college geology texts in the 1970's, discovered one of the world's premier dinosaur quarries, had eight fossil specimens named after him, belonged to a dozen major scientific societies, and helped established what is now the Utah Museum of Natural History.

These achievements reflected a mind and character marked by intense curiosity and deep love of learning. Though his pursuit of knowledge occasionally aroused controversy, he sought harmony and accommodation.

A devout man, he was convinced that science and religion need not be at war with each other. Hence his efforts to find a reconciliation between evolution and the scriptures.

In the end, his greatest contribution may not be his speculations or scientific discoveries but the example he set in loving and pursuing a wide spectrum of knowledge, from the scientific to the spiritual.

To his family and many friends and admirers, the Deseret News expresses regret at his passing together with gratitude for his service to the state in giving Utahns greater knowledge of their physical surroundings.