Skip to main content

Geologist and AAAS Fellow Howard Jonah Pincus Dies at 90

Geologist Howard Jonah Pincus, age 90, passed peacefully on October 17, 2012. He was a first-generation American born at his aunt`s home in Brooklyn, New York on June 24, 1922. His father Otto Max Pincus (originally Pincu), who had emigrated from Rumania in 1901 was a cloth cutter in New York`s garment district, and his mother Gertrude (nee Jankowsky) who had emigrated from Poland in 1897 was a homemaker. Howard spoke often of his father`s stoic efforts to support his family throughout the Depression and of his mother`s kindness and love of poetry.

As a child Howard and his family moved to the Bronx, where he attended Public School 28. He was later graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx in 1938 at age 15. Howard earned a B.S. in Mathematics at the City College of New York, graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa in June 1942. Howard then enlisted in the U.S. Army, earning the rank of First Lieutenant and commanding a combat engineering group in The Philippines.

Returning to New York City after the war, Howard completed masters and doctoral degrees in Geology at Columbia University, where he also was elected to the Sigma Xi scientific research society.

After Columbia, his professional career included positions rising from instructor to full professor and chairman of the Department of Geology at Ohio State University (1949-1967); geology research supervisor at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Minneapolis, MN (1967-1968); full professor of geology and civil engineering and dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1968-1987) where he also received the university`s first Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence; and consultant in geology, rock mechanics, tunneling, and energy storage in rocks in San Diego, California (1987-2009).

During his professional career Howard published well more than 100 articles, papers in technical journals, and chapters in scientific and educational books, as well as serving with the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, International Association of Engineering Geology, and as a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Society for Testing and Materials, which awarded him both Merit and Frank W. Reinhart awards.

Howard is survived by his loving wife of 59 years Maud, children Glenn and Philip, daughters in law Jill and Kathleen, and grandchildren Katherine, Lindsay, Thomas, and Alexandra.