John van Nostrand Dorr II, by Jacob E. Gair

Biografia transcrita por Rubem Queiroz Cobra do site
The Geological Society of America – Memorials
Visitado em 31-01-2011

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As a participant in the Brazilian mapping program for two years in the mid-1950s, I found that Jack supervised with a generally light hand, but with unswerving purpose. There was work to be done, but also fun to be had while at it. The Dorrs made every effort to see that each newly arrived geologist and family were comfortably settled in Belo Horizonte, and brought into the active American-British-Brazilian social scene. They had organized a monthly softball game and picnic that did much to create a family atmosphere among the group. Jack or designated veteran members of the project took the new member on several overview visits to different parts of the Quadrilátero; these visits were an introduction not only to local geology, but also to quaint customs and practical lessons in getting along in the foreign field setting. Then the new man was
given a quadrangle to map and turned loose, accompanied by a nontechnical Brazilian helper.

Thereafter, frequent discussions and occasional field conferences with Jack and other project members aided in keeping the work on a more or less steady course, toward a coherent description of the geology and resources in the final maps and reports. Jack was ever respectful of Brazilian sensibilities and insisted that party members never lose sight of the fact that they were guests; the only times I ever saw his typical genial and witty manner with coworkers give way were a few instances in which he felt this principle had been violated. Jack was fascinated by the many wild orchids he saw while in the field and started bringing some home. By the mid–1950s he had become an accomplished orchid grower, and his house and garden in Belo Horizonte were resplendent with several dozen varieties on display.

Brazilians have shown their apppreciation of the Quadrilátero Ferrífero program and Jack’s leadership of it, as well as their appreciation of his personal qualities of concern for their interests and sensibilities. In the l960s, he was awarded medals by the State of Minas Gerais, the School of Mines in Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais, and the Geological Society of Brazil, and an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Minas Gerais. In 1989, he was further honored upon the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Departamento Nacional de Produção Mineral (counterpart organization to USGS and the former U.S. Bureau of Mines). Two Braziliain geologists made the long journey to attend his memorial service at the Cosmos Club in Washington in January 1997. They brought with them a memorial printed in English and Portuguese, put together and published in the month since his death.

After completion of the Brazilian program in 1961 and two years preparing final reports, Jack became the USGS manganese commodity specialist, remaining so until his retirement in 1975. In these years, he wrote reports on the manganese resources of several U.S. states, made study visits to manganese deposits worldwide, and advised the USGS, AID, and the United Nations, particularly on Latin American and African mineral resource development. In 1967, he was the U.S. member of a three-man United Nations team sent to 15 African nations, some of them newly formed. The purpose was to review the status of geological education in relation to mineral programs and to evaluate a plan to create a central authority to guide such educationand training. His honest but politically difficult conclusion, with which the German team member concurred, was that the plan was over-ambitious and premature; as a result, the plan was shelved.

After retirement, Jack continued an active life: first, a year sailing the Caribbean and Bahamas, then some private consulting in Brazil, and then increasingly nonprofessional travel with Ann to satisfy their insatiable curiosity about remote places and peoples. Among such places, they set foot on Tierra del Fuego and the north slope of Alaska at Prudhoe Bay. At home, Jack paid avid attention to political activity in the nation’s capital and frequently contributed letters to the newspapers on a variety of topics; chief among his subjects were natural resources, foreign aid, and overpopulation. He was an astute and witty observer of all about him until shortly before his death.

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