Ron Girdler, age 71, died unexpectedly of a stroke at his home in Durham, England, on 19 October 2001. He became a member of AGU's Tectonophysics Section in 1960. He was elected a Fellow of AGU in 2001, but sadly, died before he could receive the award.
Girdler was one of a vanishing breed of academics who lived completely for his subject, geophysics. He lived especially for rift studies, a particular niche within the discipline. Girdler lived a frugal, simple life. In another time, he might well have been a member of a monastic order, his only extravagance being a love of travel; particularly to the United States and Japan, where he had many, many friends. He was one of a group of post-war British geophysicists, mainly trained at Cambridge, who helped provide evidence for Wegener's early ideas of continental drift. His career spanned research on reversals of the geomagnetic field, through the early and developing ideas of plate tectonics, and eventually to the routine use of global, satellite-based investigations of the geoid and geomagnetic fields.