Willard J. Pierson, Jr., retired professor of oceanography at New York University and City College of New York (CCNY), an AGU Fellow, and past president (1974–1977) of its Ocean Sciences Section, died on 7 June 2003. He had been an AGU member since 1948.

His death marked the close of an important chapter in oceanography. Pierson was a true pioneer in many aspects of oceanography, especially wave dynamics and remote sensing. His immense contributions to these fields are complemented by his legacy of a generation of scientists who successfully completed their doctoral training under his guidance to go on to productive and distinguished careers themselves. Pierson was the consummate teacher, always willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to see the light of understanding appear in his students' eyes. He was an effective mentor to many students and younger colleagues; he led by inspiration and by example; he guided with firmness and kindness.