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Noted Geography Scholar Edward Espenshade Dies at Age 97

Edward B. Espenshade Jr., professor emeritus of geography at Northwestern University, died Jan. 26 at the age of 97.

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February 5, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Edward B. Espenshade Jr., professor emeritus of geography at Northwestern University, died Jan. 26 at the age of 97 at the Mather Pavilion in Evanston.

A resident of Wilmette, Mr. Espenshade received his bachelor's and master's degrees in geology and his doctorate in geography, all from the University of Chicago. He began his professional career as Junior Geologist for the Illinois Geological survey in 1932, then worked as map curator at the University of Chicago Libraries and as instructor in geography.

During World War II, he served as Foreign Map Editor for the Army Map Service, then as intelligence specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In this latter capacity, he headed one of several independent teams that entered cities and military installations within hours after their capture by U.S. Forces to find, evaluate and secure map-making and photo intelligence materials of value to the Allies.

He began teaching in the department of geography at Northwestern as assistant professor in 1945. He became associate professor and full professor, serving as chairman of the department from 1958 to 1975 before retiring in 1978.

Mr. Espenshade is best known for his editorship of "Goode's World Atlas" from 1949 to 1994. He considered this atlas to be his most important professional contribution to the field of geography and cartography. He served as president of both the Association of American Geographers and the Chicago Geographical Society and was chairman of the Earth Sciences Division of the National Research Council-National Academy of Sciences.

He received numerous awards, including the undergraduate teaching award at the University of Chicago, the Distinguished Service Award from the Geographic Society of Chicago, the George J. Miller award for Distinguished Service from the National Council for Geographic Education and Distinguished Geographic Educator Award from the Illinois Geography Society.

Mr. Espenshade is survived by his daughters, Jean E. (Don Jones) of Madison, Wis., and Nancy E. (Rev. David Kyllo) of Evanston, Ill. He was preceded in death by his wife Dorothy in 1997, sisters Esther and Ada and brothers Bob and Paul.

A private service is planned at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the National Council for Geographic Education (1710 16th St NW, Washington D.C., 20009).