- UW Department of Geology and Geophysics
When I was a boy, my father would send me out into the wilderness to find cattle. I was never successful at this, but I could always find my way home with some dinosaur bone.
—William Lee Stokes, 1971
The Roman head of William Lee Stokes (Fig. 1), moustached, bespectacled, wry smile, bushy white hair parted on the left side, comes to me often, though he drifted into the Mesozoic – exact whereabouts unknown – on December 12, 1994. In his life, Stokes wrote and talked to great effect of worlds he had earned the hard way – in the field, hand lens to an eye, down on his hands and knees on rocks, searching for remains of ancient life. From such attention to Earth, we have gained his interpretations of the Mesozoic lands of the Colorado Plateau, his comprehensive 1987 account of the Geology of Utah, and the four editions (starting in 1960) of Essentials of Earth history. Along the way he was director of the program to compile the first geologic map of Utah, a major accomplishment that he shared with Lehi F. Hintze and J. H. Madsen, Jr. Publication of several geologic maps in the early 1960s spurred mineral and hydrocarbon exploration and the search for and development of coal deposits. In the United States, Utah ranks ninth in natural gas production, and 13th in coal and oil production.
For many years, Essentials was the book most often used in historical geology courses at universities. It was adopted in all fifty states. It was translated into Spanish. First with Sheldon Judson (1968) and then with Judson and me (1978), Stokes also wrote two much-used editions of Introduction to geology: …