TRENTON — Renowned geographer Robert Kates died in his Trenton home on April 21 at the age of 89. He had lived in Trenton since the early 1990s.
Kates was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He dropped out of New York University, where he met his wife of 68 years, Eleanor, to work in a steel mill in Indiana. He never obtained an undergraduate degree.
He re-entered school a few years later, taking night classes at Indiana University to become a teacher. One of those classes was geography, and he found his passion, according to a University of Maine website.
He received his doctorate in geography in 1962.
He spent time as a research associate or professor at Clark University and Harvard University. In 2008, he was named the Presidential Professor of Sustainability Science at the University of Maine.
He was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1991 and honorary doctorates from the University of Maine and Clark University.
He was among the first recipients of a MacArthur Fellowship, otherwise known as a “genius grant.” No one applies to the fellowship; they are confidentially nominated by fellowship officials.
He also served as president of the American Association of Geographers and was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.