Maurice Blackburn

Maurice Blackburn

Oct. 27, 1915 — March 30, 2012

Maurice Blackburn, a long-time Friday Harbor resident, died Friday, March 30, 2012 in El Cerrito, Calf.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Anne Blackburn, sister, Louisa Hamilton, and seven children; Betty Guernsey, John Blackburn, Richard Blackburn, Katy Blackburn-Hamilton, Suzan Tiemroth-Zavala, Erik Tiemroth, and Anne Margaret Blackburn.

His grandchildren—Jean Blackburn, Elizabeth Blackburn, Lisa Krupicka, Lucia Hamilton, Daniel Guernsey, Max Joy, Roberto Hamilton, Gillian Perkins, Mariana Zavala, Marcio Zavala, Henrik Tiemroth, and Alina Tiemroth—join their parents, grandmother, and seven great-grandchildren in remembering Maurice and celebrating his life.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Florence Blackburn, and brother, Dick Blackburn.

Maurice Blackburn was born on Oct. 27, 1915 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to Doris Hordern and Maurice Blackburn, prominent political figures. He was descended from English and Scottish families who came to Australia in the second quarter of the 19th century.

He was educated at Essendon High School and the University of Melbourne, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1936. Later degrees, from the same university, were Master of Science (1937) and Doctor of Science (1952).

A childhood interest in natural history caused Blackburn to follow science, and an undergraduate collecting trip to the Great Barrier Reef led him into marine biology.

In 1937 he joined the newly established Division of Fisheries of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, later called Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

This was the first institution for organized marine science in Australia. He remained with the division for over 18 years, working in Melbourne, Sydney, and Hobart, becoming principal research officer.

In 1956, Maurice Blackburn became a professor of zoology at the University of Hawaii, in Honolulu. The next year he moved to California to become program director of the newly formed Scripps Tuna Oceanography Research Program, associated with the University of California at San Diego.

After 1971, he was associated with the Coastal Upwelling Ecosystems Analysis program, operated by a multi-disciplinary group of marine scientists from several universities. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1966.

Maurice Blackburn retired from the University of California in 1977, as research biologist. He considered himself to have been, successively, a marine biologist, fishery biologist, fishery oceanographer, and biological oceanographer.

After a year in Cronulla, Australia, completing some Australian research projects, he settled in Friday Harbor, Wash., where he returned to his long-standing love of history and literature.

A celebration of Maurice Blackburn’s life will be held on 13 April 13, in El Cerrito, Calif., with another occasion for remembrance in Friday Harbor, Wash. this coming August, 2012.

— Family of Maurice Blackburn