Geographer Allen Philbrick dies at 93

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By Communications Staff
Friday, June 29, 2007
A recognized geographer and accomplished artist known widely for his passionate support for Mustang football died Wednesday.
  
Allen Kellogg Philbrick, Professor of Geography Emeritus at The University of Western Ontario, died at the age of 93 in London's University Hospital.  
 
Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1914, the son of painter Allen E. Philbrick and pianist Edith Lucretia Kellogg, Philbrick pursued music and art throughout his life.
 
His obituary notes: “His music-making at the piano was a signature of his personality. Sketching and painting were an integral part of his life as a geographer and a lover of the humanized landscape."  
 
Philbrick's career touched many activities including periods as an art teacher, labour organizer and civil rights activist, illustrator for the St. Louis Dispatch; art director, Second World War military service and city planner.
 
He served in the geography faculties of Syracuse University, University of Chicago and Michigan State University, before coming to Western in 1965. He retired in 1979, having focused on cartographic representation, global systems, geographic theory and urban culture.  
 
An avid runner and walker into his 90s, it was happenstance in 1973 that led to his celebrated and long-running connection with the football team.  
 
The following account appeared in Western Alumni Gazette in 2001.  
 
“Philbrick, a geography professor emeritus, has run over 714 touchdown laps in support of The University of Western Ontario Mustangs. Every Mustang touchdown was followed by a celebratory lap around the field by Philbrick.

“The tradition began one Saturday afternoon in 1973. Philbrick was out for a jog when he happened upon a Mustang football game. The Mustangs were losing and Philbrick walked to the sidelines to watch, taking a position next to the coach. A Mustang touchdown brought the home team into the lead and Philbrick was so energized by the touchdown he decided to run a lap around the field, and so it began. At the age of 86 he ran his last lap on Sept. 16, ending the 27-year tradition."  
 
Philbrick perceived little divide between athletics and academics.  
 
According to the Alumni Gazette article: “Philbrick received a classical education at Harvard, classical meaning he was required to do the necessary lessons in Greek and Latin. It was this training that taught Philbrick that the mind can train the body to do wonderful things. Philbrick understands that athletics, including football, requires discipline, practice and training.  
 
“The same brain that can train people to do things can also write poetry, write plays, invent relativity and all the wonders of science," Philbrick told the reporter.

Away from Western, Philbrick was an energetic participant in his community. He played a leading role in the Ratepayers' Association of Orchard Park and Sherwood Forest and served two terms on London's Ecological and Environmental Protection Advisory Committee.
 
A public celebration of Philbrick's life will take place in the fall.  
 
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: the Allen K. Philbrick Research Fund, attention Donna Swanson, Foundation Western, Room 11, Alumni Hall, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5B9.  
 
Philbrick is survived by his wife, Professor Emerita Elaine Bjorklund Philbrick, and by his son, Allen James Philbrick, daughter-in-law Kathleen of Ann Arbor, Michigan; grandson Jeffery Philbrick (Karen) of Bremen, Maine; granddaughter Kristen Eichler (Jeff) of Louisville, Kentucky; great-grandsons Henry Eichler and Truman Eichler; and his extended family, Clare Gordon, Janet Gordon, and the Fu Family in Caoxian, People's Republic of China.  

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