John Opie

July 31, 1934 - September 30, 2018 

John Opie

July 31, 1934 - September 30, 2018 

Obituary for John Opie

John Opie, Jr., died on September 30, 2018, of complications from Parkinson’s Disease. He was born on July 31st, 1934 in Chicago.

He retired as a Distinguished Professor Emeritus, of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and followed this as a lecturer in Environmental Studies at the University of Chicago. Opie received his history from DePauw University, B.D. from Union Theological Seminary (NYC) and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. For many years he was Professor of History at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he established a graduate program in public history as well as an undergraduate honors program. He came to NJIT in 1987 as Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS). He was also Director of NJIT's Center for Technology Studies. In 1976, Opie was the founding president of the American Society for Environmental History, as well as founding editor of the professional international quarterly, Environmental Review, (now Environmental History).

While a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina in 1980-81, Opie co-authored the 1982 book, Energy and American Values. Other publications were The Law of the Land (1976), Nature’s Nation: An Environmental History of the United States (1998). and Virtual America: Sleepwalking Through Paradise (2008). His publication of Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land, which went through three editions between 1993 and 2017, was winner of the George Perkins Marsh book prize for 1994. He also published 47 referenced articles and book chapters, 38 book reviews, and over 60 papers at professional meetings. In 1995, he was a consultant to the President's Council on Sustainable Development and the American Association of Engineering Societies. He was acting dean of NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts during 1991-1993, a departmental chair during 1990-1996, and established NJIT's Graduate Program in Environmental Policy Studies in 1994.

John’s avocation was as a photographer. He rarely went out of the house, biked a pathway, traveled to a meeting, or journeyed to his favorite hideaway deep in Canyonlands, without his camera. He saw the world through a camera’s lens. His memories of places and people were wired into his photos, usually of the iconic American landscape. He won multiple local and regional juried photography awards, starting from the time he was a teenager in the early 1950’s until just before he passed away.

Opie married his high school sweetheart, Lora Jean Watson, in 1955. They had four children. Lora was killed in an auto accident in 1973, along with their 15-year-old son, Christopher Charles Opie. In 1976, John Opie married Barbara Gerlach Ray. They each brought their children into a blended family. John Opie is survived by his wife. Barbara, sons John F. Opie, and Stephen Opie, step-sons Timothy Ray and Peter Ray, daughter Maria Opie-Juntunen, and step-daughter Heather Karp. He has two sisters, Mildred Opie Judson and Joyce Opie Malone

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to one or more of the following: Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, Nature Conservancy, or Natural Resources Defence Council or the Ohio Living Breckenridge Village Life Care Fund.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 11 AM at East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 10848 Chillicothe Road, Kirtland.

“For out of town family members and friends who are able to join us to celebrate John at the memorial service on December 1 we have arranged for a special rate at the Holiday Inn Cleveland Northeast/Mentor. Please click this link to access the rate: Opie’s Memorial Weekend

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