University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

In Memoriam: Dr. H. Gardiner Barnum, Professor Emeritus of Geography

Dr. H. Gardiner Barnum, Professor Emeritus of Geography

It is with great sadness that we announce the death, after an extended illness, of Dr. H. Gardiner Barnum of South Burlington, VT.

Dr. H. Gardiner Barnum received a B.A. in Biology from Middlebury College, and an M.S. (1961) and Ph.D. (1965) in Geography from the University of Chicago. He was among a core group of four people in the mid-1960s who worked to establish geography as both a program and department at UVM, where he taught from 1965 to 2002. He was a member of the Association of American Geographers, the American Geographical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Name Society, the Canadian Society for the Study of Names, and Sigma Xi. Throughout his career, he taught World Regional Geography to hundreds of students and was the Department's specialist on the Geography of Europe, drawing on his experiences living and traveling the continent.  He was the last person in the department who had been trained to do cartography by hand.  His research interests focused on the interpretation of place names. One of his last projects was a book on place names on Vermont's Long Trail.

UVM Professor and Vermont State Climatologist Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux reflected on Dr. Barnum’s tenure at UVM:  “He was one of the first people that I met in the Geography Department when I arrived at UVM in August 1997. A quiet individual with a wonderful sense of humor, he will be missed by his former students and colleagues alike. His puns and plays on words were legendary. He was also a master of place names and the importance of these in tracing the history, development, and culture of a given region, street, or town. He was one of the most generous individuals that it was ever my privilege to meet, often filling my inbox with cutting-edge Science articles of interest to a climatologist, or clippings from the New York Times. The Bailey-Howe Library was likewise the recipient of Gar’s generosity, with several of their hard copy holdings resulting primarily from his donation. Most of all, Gar will be remembered for his utmost dedication to his students, often spending long hours during and apart from regular office hours, working with them to ensure their grasp of the material at hand. We’ll miss you Gar!”

A private gathering in honor of Gardiner's life will take place at a later date. Those wishing to remember him may do so with a donation to a charity of their choice. Online condolences may be made by going to