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1924 Francis 2022

Francis stehli

October 16, 1924 — April 14, 2022

Francis (Frank) Greenough Stehli was born at home in Montclair, New Jersey on October 16, 1924. He was the only son of Edgar and Emilie Stehli and had one sister, Emilie Anne (Nancy) Stehli Knoerzer. Between the homes of his two sets of Montclair grandparents lay nothing but forests with extensive cliffs, talus slopes below, and the steep rock faces of an abandoned quarry. It was a wonderful place to play and he and his sister Nancy spent most of their childhood there. Frank’s parents loved and studied the natural world and they shared this abiding interest with both of their children. Indeed this love and interest in the natural world became a family legacy now shared by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Frank graduated from College High School, Montclair, New Jersey and in 1942 enrolled at Saint Lawrence University in Canton, New York. His education was interrupted by his call to service in the United States Navy during WWII. At the end of the war he returned to St. Lawrence University where Frank met and married Irene Elizabeth Comfort in 1948 beginning a 67 year marriage. He graduated from St. Lawrence with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1949 and a Master of Science degree in 1950. In 1953 he completed a PhD. at Columbia University, New York.

Frank and his young wife traveled across the country as Frank pursued his education and career endeavors which were extensive. Along the way Frank and Irene had four children. Anne Comfort Stehli was born in New York as was her brother Robert Comfort Stehli. John Comfort Stehli was born in California and lastly Edgar Comfort Stehli was born in Oklahoma. Eventually Frank and Irene settled down in Bainbridge, Ohio as Frank became Professor of Geology and eventually Department Chairman at Case Western Reserve University. His career continued at CWRU as the Samuel St. John Professor of Earth Science, Dean of Science and Engineering, and finally Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences, CWRU College of Arts and Sciences. With their children now mostly grown Frank and Irene moved to Gainesville, Florida where Frank assumed the position of Dean of Graduate Studies and Sponsored Research, University of Florida, Gainesville. Another move and he was Dean of the College of Geosciences at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Through all these endeavors he continued research on Permian Brachiopods begun with the Smithsonian Institute during Graduate School at Columbia. Throughout his career he gathered hundreds of thousands of specimens on all continents except Antarctica. The species distribution of the fossil brachiopods he catalogued was supporting data in the establishment of Continental Drift Theory, now Plate Tectonics; although he remained a skeptic for a good long time.

By the time his children were married and establishing families of their own, Frank and Irene decided it was time to retire and return to Northeast Ohio to be near their children in Chardon, Ohio. In retirement Frank shared his research skills and love of natural history with the Geauga Park District. He worked on the stream team, small mammal studies, plant surveys, spotted turtle telemetry and as a bluebird box doc. The Geauga Park District honored Frank’s volunteer work with the 2010 Robert McCullough Lifetime Achievement Award. Frank continued to graciously make himself available as a geology consultant for the exhibits as the West Woods Nature Center was being built, and in so doing, Frank passed his lifelong knowledge and love of the natural world to its future protectors.

On April 14, at the age of 97 years, Francis Greenough Stehli passed away at the home of his daughter Anne Stehli Clouser where he resided the last five years of his life. He was preceded in death by his wife Irene, his parents Edgar and Emilie (Greenough) Stehli, and his dear sister Nancy Knoerzer. He is survived by his four children Anne (Sidney) Stehli-Clouser of Chardon, Robert (Marie) of Mantua, John of Hambden, and Edgar (Kimberly) of Broadview Heights. He was grandfather to Benjamin Clouser (Chicago), Martin Stehli (Vermillion Twp.) Kelsey Schierloh (Shaker Heights), Julie Richards (Mohican Twp.), Katie Regan (Ft. Collins, CO), and Richard Stehli (Ft. Collins, CO), and great-grandfather to 11. Funeral services were conducted at the home of his daughter and internment was at his beloved farm in Smithville Flats, New York.

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