Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Leslie Curry Geographer

Leslie Curry, 86, a theoretical geographer who won a prestigious international medal for his life's work, died of lymphoma Jan. 12 at his home in Annapolis.

Dr. Curry received the International Geographical Union's Laureat d'Honneur in 2000, which is given once every four years.

The award said his "theoretical studies in economic geography, especially studies that draw upon the mathematics of probability theory and the concepts of physical systems analysis, have been unmatched in their originality and rigor and have established his international reputation as one of the leading theoreticians in the discipline."

His work early on showed that natural climatic change could occur as the result of random exchanges of heat in the oceans. Another paper treated "central places" -- the number, size and location of human settlements in an urban system -- in terms of inventory management and randomness.

He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, and at the age of 18, he volunteered for the Royal Navy during World War II. He served as a radar mechanic in a destroyer flotilla in the Mediterranean and later took part in the Normandy invasion.

Dr. Curry graduated from Kings College at the University of Durham in 1949. Two years later, he received a master's degree in geography from Johns Hopkins University. He worked as an economist at the United Nations and then at Charles Warren Thornthwaite's Laboratory of Climatology in Seabrook, N.J.

He received his doctorate in geography from the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 1959. From 1960 to 1963, he taught at the University of Maryland, and he spent 21 years at the University of Toronto before retiring in 1985. He then moved to Annapolis.

He wrote "The Random Spatial Economy and Its Evolution" (1998) as well as scholarly papers. He contributed to "Geographical Voices" (2002), an anthology of essays by eminent geographers.

His first wife, Jean Blick Curry, died in 1981.

Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Caryl Pines Curry of Annapolis; three children from his first marriage, William Curry of Oakville, Ontario, Claudia Curry of Port Hope, Ontario, and Ann Curry-Stevens of Portland, Ore.; two stepchildren, Eve Pines of Springfield, Ill., and Roger Pines of Chicago; and seven grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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