The three original staff of the Cascadia Meteorite Lab, Alex, Melinda and Dick (L to R), in an undated photo taken before 2006.
Edwin Thompson (founder, ET Meteorites) and Dick wearing an ET Meteorites cap, Tucson Gem Show, February 2020.
Dick at OMSI following a talk, August 2002.
Dick in the lab cutting a specimen with student Niina Jamsja, February 2010.
Dick and Ed Scott, incoming President of the Meteoritical Society at the time, July 2010.
Dick, Alex and collaborator Jon Friedrich (L to R) at the Meteoritical Society in July 2015, standing
in front of a poster given on "Dick's black chondrite" (NWA 8709), an
interesting and significant meteorite Dick found in a local rock shop.
This meteorite is the subject of continuing research by Alex, Jon and
colleagues. The 2015 MetSoc poster on NWA 8709 is available here.
Dick with the Ruzicka twins in May, 2015, at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals after a talk given there.
Jull, Candace Kohl, and Dick in Tucson, Arizona, February 2020. Tim,
Candace and Dick were Meteoritical Society friends and travelling
companions, with some legendary trips between them.
Dick with personal friends Sam Kimpton and Blaine Schmeer (L to R) in the lab after the Tucson trip, February 2020.
A Tribute to
Richard "Dick" Norman Pugh
March 8, 1940 - June 15, 2020
(Dick) Pugh was a long-time meteorite enthusiast and educator, and the heart of
the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at Portland State University. Dick received
both his B.S. and his M.S.T. in physical science from Portland State University.
While a student, he worked with Erwin F. Lange on meteorites and meteorite
education. From 1968 to 1999, Dick taught science classes at Cleveland High
School in Portland, where he was widely known by students as an excellent and
challenging teacher who inspired a love of science and meteorites.
the years that Dick taught at Cleveland High School, he followed in the
footsteps of his mentor, Erwin F. Lange.
Dick spent decades giving lectures, talks, and demonstrations about
meteorites, astronomy and geology to children and adults in grade schools, high
schools, colleges, universities, and clubs in Oregon, Washington, Nevada,
California, and Montana.
thousands (if not tens of thousands of rocks) brought to him by the
public. Most were “meteor-wrongs”, but a
few were bona fide meteorites, and Dick contacted and worked with various
meteorite scientists to get these analyzed and published, including the Salem
report 1983; full
paper with Roy Clarke 1988) and the Study Butte chondrite (initial
report with Kurt Fredriksson and Roy Clarke 1984).
Dick rediscovered the location in West Linn
where the Willamette meteorite had been found, and realized that it was on the
“strand line” from the ice age floods.
He published a paper with
PSU geologist John Eliot Allen suggesting that the Willamette had fallen in
Canada and been rafted to Oregon by one of the ice age floods. Dick also
published numerous reports of fireballs over the Pacific Northwest.
regularly attended annual professional conferences such as the Lunar and
Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), and the Meteoritical Society Meeting
(MetSoc). Dick met Alex Ruzicka at the
MetSoc in New York in 1986, and kept
running into Alex and talking with him at LPSCs and MetSocs.
Ten years after
Dick met Alex, Melinda Hutson moved to Portland, and Dick introduced himself to
her in January 1997 after hearing her give an invited lecture. Local meteorite dealer Edwin Thompson wrote
Melinda: “I was in Tucson doing the show the year he met you and he called me
to say in his most excited voice ‘E.T., we got a Meteorite Scientist and she
did her doctoral thesis on Abee!’ I will always remember that day. I was in the
middle of the show and he wanted to stay on the phone and start making plans
enjoyed recounting stories about meeting Alex and Melinda and creating the
Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at Portland State University. Dick had met each of them under different
circumstances and didn’t realize that Alex and Melinda were married to each
other until Dick stopped by Portland State University in 2000 and found Alex
2000 and 2002, Dick, Alex, Melinda and Edwin would get together from time to
time for lunch or dinner, and talk about meteorites. Inevitably, either Dick or
Edwin would say that they dreamed of one day having a meteorite lab in Oregon. During
one of those meals in early 2002, Melinda replied “well, why don’t we?” and the
Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory (CML) was born.
Between 2003 and 2020, Dick
served as an integral part of CML. Dick
started the E.F. Lange Endowment in 2005, which supports the activities of CML,
in honor of his former advisor. Dick purchased and donated hundreds of
meteorite samples to the CML collection.
He helped prepare meteorite samples for classification, including two
from Oregon (the Morrow
County chondrite and the Fitzwater
Pass iron meteorite).
From 2003 to 2015, Dick drove tens of
thousands of miles (this is not an exaggeration; Dick kept records) to speak to
thousands of people as part of three consecutive NASA Education/Public Outreach
Grants (links to three sets of summary abstracts and posters describing this
can be found on our Publications page
under “Education and Public Outreach”).
After the grants ended, Dick continued to drive around the Pacific
Northwest doing public outreach funded using donations to CML.
received the Service Award of the Meteoritical Society at the 2011 MetSoc
meeting in Greenwich, England. This award "honors members who have
advanced the goals of the Society to promote research and education in
meteoritics and planetary science in ways other than by conducting scientific
research." See the
citation for Dick’s award.
In 2011, Dick also received the Duane Marshall Special Service to
Education Award from the Oregon Science Teachers Association and was recognized
as a Sigma Xi Distinguished Member.
service to the community went beyond meteorites. Between 1978 and 1992, he served in several
positions on the Board of the Mazamas (an
Oregon-based mountain climbing club). From 1988 to 2020, Dick was on the Board
of the Columbia-Willamette
chapter of Sigma Xi, serving twice as President. A very nice tribute to Dick was just published on the Sigma Xi website and is available as a pdf here.
was a true Renaissance man, with an incredible diversity of interests,
including hiking, hunting, raising Highlander cattle, and researching pottery.
He co-authored a book entitled “China
Painters of the Pacific Northwest” with Harvey Steele.
had an abiding love of nature and was concerned with conservation. As an
example, Dick was involved in the creation and restoration of Oaks Bottom, a
complex mix of forest, meadow, and wetlands along the east bank of the
Willamette River near downtown Portland, Oregon. Dick was one of the authors of the 1988 Oaks
Bottom Coordinated Resource Management Plan, and helped plant
native oak seedlings as part of restoration efforts.
Pugh was a good friend to many people, and godfather to Alex and Melinda’s
twins. We are grateful to have had him
in our lives for as long as we did. He
will be greatly missed.