A memorial service will be held Friday, Oct. 1, at 3pm in the MIT Chapel for Dr. Robert R. Shrock, professor emeritus of geology, former department head and an internationally known authority on paleontology, sedimentary rocks and stratigraphy. Dr. Shrock, a Lexington resident, died June 22 at the age of 88 after a long struggle with cancer.
Dr. Shrock began his education in a two-room schoolhouse in the village of Wawpecong, Ind., graduated from high school in nearby Kokomo and was awarded a scholarship to Indiana University, where he earned an AB, MA and PhD.
He joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin in 1928 and moved to MIT in 1937, where he stayed until his retirement in 1975. He retired in 1970 but remained as a senior lecturer five more years. During World War II he served on the War Production Board.
In the course of his research at MIT, Dr. Shrock discovered many new species of fossils, and several other fossils were named in his honor.
From 1949 to 1965 he was head of the Department of Geology and Geophysics. Besides the accomplishments in geology during this period, he started a program of instruction and research in oceanography administered jointly by the department and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. When MIT's first oceanographic research vessel was acquired from the Navy it was named the R.R. Shrock in recognition of his leadership in the field.
Professor Thomas H. Jordan, head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, said Dr. Shrock had served as a mentor for members of the department. "He contributed in so many different ways to the department," Dr. Jordan said. "He just loved this place."
One of the summer training programs for undergraduates inaugurated during Dr. Shrock's term as department head, was the GSI Student Cooperative Plan, under which students took summer field training with Geophysical Service, Inc., a Texas geophysical exploration company founded by an MIT alumnus, Dr. Cecil H. Green.
Mr. Green and his wife, Ida, later provided funds for the 20-story Cecil and Ida Green Center for the Earth Sciences, dedicated in 1964. The Greens, among MIT's greatest benefactors, also endowed three professorships in the current Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, one known as the Robert R. Shrock Professorship of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Besides his articles in research journals, Dr. Shrock was the author or co-author of several well-known books, including Index Fossils of North America (with Hervey W. Shimer), Sequence in Layered Rocks and Principles of Invertebrate Paleontology (with W. H. Twenhofel).
In addition to the fossils named for him, Dr. Shrock received many awards and honors. He was Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, President of the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists (SEPM), and President of the American Association of Geology Teachers. He also received an honorary degree from Indiana University and the Twenhofel Medal fro, SEPM.
He served as a corporation member, trustee and executive committee member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He also was a member of many professional geological societies and served on numerous review and visiting committees.
After his retirement, Dr. Shrock wrote two books on the history of geology: The Geologists Crosby of Boston and the two-volume work, Geology at MIT: 1865-1965. His great energy and enthusiasm even toward the end of his life were further evidenced by his completion, at the age of 85, of the biography Cecil and Ida Green: Philanthropists Extraordinary.
Dr. Shrock is survived by his wife, Theodora Weidman Shrock of Lexington; a daughter, Wendolyn T. Shrock of Northfield; a son, Robert E. Shrock of Setauket, NY; and by his sisters, Miriam Rody and Virginia Shrock of Kokomo, IN; Evelyn Lavrenz of Plainfield, IN, Dorothea Littler of Syracuse, IN, and Cleta Berry of Collierville, TN.
A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 1).