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When Earl Droessler died peacefully on 30 December 2001, it marked the close of an illustrious and productive career in which, as an imaginative agent of change, he contributed substantially to the growth of the geosciences in the United States, as well as to the growth of AGU. Droessler was one of the “midwives” who opened new avenues of cooperation between the federal government and the university community thereby elevating geophysics to its current pre-eminence in the scientific community. A recipient of the Waldo E.Smith Medal in 1992, he had been a member of the Atmospheric Sciences Section since 1947.

Earl Droessler's footprints are evident at every step in the elevation of geophysics in the United States over the past 40 years; and in the transformation of AGU, from a committee in the National Research Council, to a leading scientific society with an impressive array of publications, outstanding meetings, and a magnificent headquarters building in Washington, D.C. His extraordinary services are summarized in the citation for the Smith Medal, which read, in part:“With consummate wisdom, unfettered imagination, boundless enthusiasm, and gentle persuasion, Earl Droessler has been one of the prime movers in the elevation of geophysics to prominence in the scientific community during the second half of the twentieth century.”