Eugene (Gene) Hinman ’52, 1930-2017

January 2nd, 2018

Eugene (Gene) Hinman ’52, William Harmon Norton professor emeritus of geology, died Dec. 29, 2017. His extensive history at Cornell College began when he entered as a student in 1948, deepened through his teaching career, and continued as he stayed connected to the geology department.

Gene Hinman '52

He taught at Cornell from 1956-58 and 1960-95, following in the footsteps of his mentor, geology professor Herb Hendriks ’40, who had replaced Norton (Class of 1875) himself. Hinman specialized in marine geology and became a member of the initial generation of faculty to teach at the Gerace Research Centre on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. After his first class there, he literally wrote the book—a teacher’s guide—to San Salvador.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan 27, at Cottage Grove Place, 2115 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Condolences may be sent to Dot Boden Hinman ’53, 2115 1st Ave. SE, Apt. 3329, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.

The family prepared this obituary: 

Eugene (Gene) Hinman, of Cedar Rapids and formerly of Mount Vernon, passed away Dec. 29, 2017, at Cottage Grove Place. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Teahen Funeral Home is serving the family.

Eugene Edward Hinman (Gene), son of Archie and Cora Hinman, was born in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1930. He graduated from Elgin, Ill., High School, and then went to Cornell College, intending to major in journalism. Gene began sneaking into geology field trips with his roommate and changed his major to geology. He also met his future wife, Dot [Dorothy Boden Hinman ’53], in chemistry class, and they were married the day after he graduated. Gene received his master’s degree from Washington State and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa.

Gene Hinman '52After deferments to complete his M.S., Gene was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent two years in Japan, working in a supply warehouse. As discharge neared, Cornell offered him a position in the geology department. Gene loved teaching, in and outside the classroom, and Cornell was a perfect fit. He thoroughly enjoyed his contacts with students. He retired after 38 years of teaching but continued to follow his students’ careers, enjoying visits from former students throughout his life. Off-campus teaching provided wonderful summers and Januarys for the whole family. Four summers in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Field Station allowed him to teach geology by canoe and teach his boys to paddle. Januarys on San Salvador in the Bahamas were spent teaching marine geology to his students and gave Dot and the boys a chance to snorkel along with them.

Gene is survived by Dorothy, his wife of 50 years; his dearly loved sons and their partners, Dave (Lisa) and Jim (Chris); grandchild, Chandra Roth; sister-in-law, Barbara Boden; and treasured friends, Barbara Christiansen and Charles Connell.

Volunteering was an important part of his life. He served on the Mount Vernon Planning Commission and helped to develop the town’s first 10-year plan. After retirement, he and Dot volunteered with the Red Cross on both their local and national disaster teams, helping those affected by tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Later they volunteered at the VA Medical Center in Iowa City and at the Cedar Valley Humane Society, where Gene served on the board. Looking for new opportunities led them to St. Luke’s Hospital, where they developed the hospital archives.

Gene’s photography hobby provided slides to be used in his classes and memories of his travels. Travel included two trips to Africa, a tour through Mongolia and China to collect dinosaur fossils in the famed Flaming Cliffs, a summer looking for dinosaur fossils in Montana (impressions of dino skin found there are now at the Field Museum), a trip on the upper Amazon helping researchers study river dolphins, nature travel to the Baja whale watching, and to the Arctic (Svalbard) and Antarctic, Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. With Cornell faculty colleagues he also visited Jordan.

Gene Hinman '52He loved time with his family, anything chocolate, new gadgets, golden retrievers, Stephanie Plum novels, Saturday morning coffee with friends, and his new doggie friends, Harper and George.

Gene will be remembered for his quick wit and his impish smile. He was so proud of his sons and daughters-in-law, as well as his students. He was a wonderful friend, husband, and dad.

Instead of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Cornell College or to Indian Creek Nature Center, where he was a life member.





8 Responses to “Eugene (Gene) Hinman ’52, 1930-2017”

  1. Dot Hinman says:

    Thanks to all Gene’s students. He was so proud of you and proud of all you accomplished.

  2. Sharon L. Harrington says:

    Kappa Delta Chi
    Graduated 1964

    I was so sorry to read of your husband’s passing. Although I did not have a class with him, I remember his sense of humor.

    Your hosted the KDX’s at your home several times and we very gracious to us. Being away from home, it meant a great deal to us to be invited to someone’s home.

    Sharon Harrington, Class of 1964

  3. Ben Greenstein says:

    So sorry to learn about Gene. He accompanied me to San Salvador the first time I taught my carbonate systems course for Cornell. We had a lot of fun on the island – he showed me some outcrops I had never seen before, and taught me some clever field techniques – which he described as “the bees knees”.

  4. From Chris Madsen:

    I’ve been so lucky to have known Gene for many years. He lived in the rarefied world of academia, a heady thing to me. I particularly remember going along to a house party in Mt Vernon, hosted by Herb & Luretta Hendriks. They, Gene and Dot and Barbara and Paul Christiansen and Marianne Bern epitomized a sense of graciousness and culture that I had never seen in real life up to that point.

    Gene made me laugh. I have lots of photos of him with a grin or huge smile on his face. He really loved life and enjoyed it thoroughly, teaching me, in the process, to savor every photo, every dog, every plane, every gift shop. I learned to appreciate museums, in his company, and history, as never before. I learned, too, to value small towns that invest in their community. To give back, through volunteering, to a cause that matters.

  5. Adrienne Corn says:

    I am so sorry to hear of Gene’s passing.

    I am fortunate to say that I was able to take his geology class during my time at Cornell, which was also at the end of his time teaching there. I found Gene (and his dog) so compelling that if it had been possible, I would have added a geology major to my pursuits. I loved the classroom and the rock museum and to this day (and the amusement of my husband) I recall random tidbits learned from that class so, so many years ago.

    The Cornell community is richer because of him, to be sure, and as such his memory lives on.

  6. Dot Hinman says:

    Dear Adrienne, Huge thanks for your comments. Our sons and families especially appreciate hearing these things; families often don’t realize the impact their parents had. Gene would have been delighted to know that some of the class “took” and you remembered bits. He was a really great guy, and is missed by us all every day.
    Again, many thanks for sharing your memories.

  7. Suzanne Blea says:

    I’m sorry to hear of Gene Hinman’s passing. I took his geology 101 curse at cornell in the early 90s and will never forget his giddy excitement finally answering his own question about what substance made up an oosparite. He exclaimed , “its poop! Pure poop!” Pressed into stone of course, but i won’t ever forget Prof Hinman or that class!

  8. Dot Hinman says:

    Thanks for your comment on Gene’s class. It helps our sons to fill out their picture of their dad. He loved to teach and hoped his students would get as excited about discoveries as he did. Hope all is well with you

Leave a Reply