UCSB professor and world-famous innovator in the field of human geography Reginald Golledge died at his home on Friday.
Affectionately known as “Reg” by friends and family, Golledge, 71, began teaching at UCSB in 1977 and helped found the fields of human and behavioral geography during his tenure at the university. Golledge – who was declared legally blind in the 1980s – helped create the Personal Guidance System, a device that helps blind people navigate.
According to Jack Loomis, a UCSB psychology professor and close friend, Golledge was a tremendous scholar.
“I know he was truly one of the great geographers of all time for the huge role he played in developing the field of behavioral geography,” Loomis said. “He did much to improve blind people’s access to spatial information.”
Golledge’s cause of death was not made public. However, Golledge was in poor health before his death. He had survived cancer five times and had been recently dealing with a heart condition.
UCSB geology professor Ed Keller said Golledge never allowed his blindness to interfere with his life. Despite the handicap, Keller said he was a competitive sportsman.
“He had a great sense of humor and loved darts – we won a tournament after he lost his sight!” Keller said. “I just had to head him in the right direction with a marker and advise Reg where the first dart landed. He made adjustments and we won the tournament. … Our opponent was so surprised he fell on the floor in shock and surprise.”
According to Bill Norrington, Golledge’s administrative assistant for over 10 years, Golledge was also an avid fisherman.
“His favorite hobby was fishing, and he was darn good at it, even after losing his sight,” Norrington said. “He often fished for trout at Lake Cachuma, and he invariably caught the most and the biggest. As the T-shirt says, ‘Women adore him; fish fear him!'”
As a professor, Golledge was highly decorated. UCSB’s Academic Senate recently named him Faculty Research Lecturer of 2009, its highest honor for a faculty member. Golledge had been scheduled to give a public lecture next fall as part of the award.
During his life, Golledge published dozens of books and articles on the field of human geography. Even after losing his eyesight, he remained a prolific writer. Through his assistants, Golledge was known to vigorously edit all his writing.
Golledge received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1966 and also held an honorary Ph.D. from Göteborg University in Sweden. Golledge was the chair of the UCSB geography department from 1980 to 1984.
Golledge is survived by his wife of 32 years, Allison, and his children Bryan, Brittany, Stephanie and Linda.
“He will be remembered as a truly caring and generous man,” Allison Golledge said. “He was a wonderful father, and he will be truly missed.”
A memorial service for Golledge will be held at 1 p.m. this Saturday at the UCSB Faculty Club.