04 June 2008
David Hooson, professor emeritus of geography and a scholar of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, national identities, and the history of geographic ideas, died May 16 at the age of 82. He drowned during his regular swim at Shell Beach on Tomales Bay, near his home in Marin County’s Inverness Park, a small, unincorporated community adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore.
His work is said to have made a significant impact on geography within the Soviet Union, and his publications — including the books A New Soviet Heartland? (1964) and The Soviet Union: A Systematic Regional Geography (1966) — reportedly spurred passionate discussion there.
Hooson joined Berkeley’s geography department in 1966, served as chair of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies from 1967-70, and chaired the geography department from 1970-75. As chair he led an effort to diversify the department, hiring its first African American and female professors. He also served as acting chair from 1985-86.
In addition, Hooson was dean of social sciences from 1977 to 1980 and chair of the Academic Senate Committee on the Status of Women and Minorities during the 1981-82 academic year.
Hooson retired from Berkeley in 1997 but continued to teach here for three years.
Hooson was born on April 25, 1926, in the Vale of Clywd in North Wales. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in geography at Oxford University in 1948 and 1950, respectively, and his Ph.D. in geography in 1955 at the London School of Economics. Before coming to Berkeley he taught at Glasgow University, the University of Maryland (1956-60), and the University of British Columbia (1960-66).
Hooson was chair of the Commission on the History of Geographical Thought for the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science and the International Geographical Union (IGU). He wrote dozens of articles on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and was active in professional circles, joining fellow specialists at annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers, the Institute of British Geographers, the American Geographical Society, and the IGU.
Hooson is survived by his wife, Cariadne Margaret Mackenzie-Hooson; a son, Roger Hooson, of Berkeley; a daughter, Claire Hooson, of Belmont; a brother, John Hooson, of Wales; a sister, Helen Wright, of England; and a previous wife, Alison Rayner-Hooson, of Point Richmond.
The family is asking that memorial contributions be made to the Friends of the Fromm Institute, 2130 Fulton St., San Francisco CA 94117.
A scattering of ashes is set for June 21 at Shell Beach, and a campus memorial at the Faculty Club is tentatively planned for late August or early September. The Royal Geographical Society also is planning a memorial in London in mid-September.
— Kathleen Maclay