Antonio Marussi, one of the most prominent geodesists of this century, died in Trieste, Italy, on April 24, 1984, at the age of 75. Blessed with good health and a robust physical constitution for most of his life, he was struck down by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) which he had contracted in 1982.
Marussi is best known among geodesists as the father of modern three-dimensional geodesy. Following an initial presentation at the 1948 Oslo General Assembly of the IUGG, he published in 1949 in the Bulletin Géodésique an article entitled “Fondements de géométrie differentielle absolue du champ potential terrestre,” acknowledged now as one of the seminal works of the geodetic literature. In this and subsequent papers, Marussi developed in a general, rigorous, mathematical setting a unified approach to the solution of both geometric and physical problems in geodesy, obliterating the artificial distinction between horizontal and vertical which had been built up by geodesists over many years because of observational difficulties. He thus introduced many geodesists to the 20th century by demonstrating the value and, indeed, the necessity of advanced mathematical techniques like the tensor calculus and by anticipating useful data to be obtained by observations on close extraterrestrial objects like satellites.