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George D. Grice

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the unexpected death of former Associate Director for Scientific Operations and Senior Scientist George Daniel Grice, Jr., of the Biology Department. He died March 11, 2001, in Charleston, SC.

George D. Grice, Jr., was born October 9, 1929 in Charleston. He received a B.S. degree in biology from Clemson College in 1950, a M.A. degree in biology from Florida State University in 1953, and Ph.D. in biology from Florida State University in 1957. He worked as a fishery biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Juneau, Alaska, from 1957 to 1958, then spent a year as a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

George Grice joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution staff in July 1959 as a research associate in marine zoology in the Biology Department. He bore the nickname “Grits”, and he was known to his friends for many years by that name. George didn’t have the usual South Carolina accent; it was said to have been influenced by Gullah, the speech of the sea-island people who helped out in his boyhood Charleston home. In 1963 he was promoted to Associate Scientist, and in June 1973 was named a Senior Scientist. He served as Chair of the Biology Department from 1974 to 1981, when he was named Associate Director for Scientific Operations, with responsibility for all the facilities of the Institution. During this time he played a major role in planning for the nation’s new fleet of research vessels, now tangible in the Research Vessel Atlantis and its sister ships.

During the 1970s, he was an initiator, leader and active investigator in the multi-national program Controlled Ecosystem Polution Experiment (CEPEX) that used large specialized enclosures, called mesocosms, to study plankton communities under controlled conditions. The results were published in a 1982 book co-authored with Mike Reeve called Marine Mesocosms.

His scientific research, ultimately conducted in all of the world’s oceans, focused on the taxonomy and biology of copepods, a large group of small crustaceans important in oceanic food webs. At WHOI he soon became known for his good humor and hard work. His papers on the abundance, seasonal occurrence, and distribution of zooplankton between Long Island and Bermuda became a standard resource for biological oceanographers working in the Northwest Atlantic. He published more than 65 substantial scientific papers throughout his scientific career. After serving as Associate Director for Scientific Operations until February 1991, he retired later in that year.

John Steele, former Director of WHOI, and a colleague and friend, said “George liked tough challenges and assignments. He was equally successful in many jobs; catching and describing small animals very close to the seabed two miles down; analyzing the ecosystems in these large mesocosms; or allocating ship time and lab space to the diverse and sometimes difficult community of his colleagues at WHOI. In all these activities he added lustre to his scientific reputation and brought credit to the Institution. I shall miss his company, his wit and his Rebel Yell.”

George found it hard to retire, and in January 1992 he was named Director of the Research Planning and Coordination Division for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Woods Hole. In 1996 he was named Deputy Science and Research Director at the Center, working with Alan Peterson and later Mike Sissenwine.

As head of Research Planning and Coordination at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, George Grice assured the scientific rigor and efficiency of Center science programs. He provided top federal managers with advice on the best use of Center science resources in support of U.S. public policies, and built and maintained relationships with clients and users of Center information and expertise to improve usefulness and expand partnership projects. He also oversaw a regional effort to develop a broad-based ecosystem research and monitoring program for waters of the U.S. Northeast continental shelf, and modernization of the NOAA research fleet. During his time as deputy science & research director, he continued many of his prior duties as well as being instrumental in navigating a major reorganization of the Service to improve accountability and information transfer.

In 1997 George Grice accepted an appointment with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in Paris, France, to serve IOC as Senior Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Living Resources. Much of his work involved the development and oversight of international coral reef monitoring programs, and the development of the Living Marine Resource Module of the Global Ocean Observing System. At the time his death, George was Senior Science Advisor to the Executive Secretary of the IOC, in charge of organizing and overseeing an independent review of the IOC Science Program. Long-time colleague Dick Backus notes that George became interested in fishing in the 1970s. “If he were sleepless and tide and season were right, 3 or 4 a.m. would find him bucking the currents of Woods Hole passage casting for bass or bluefish.” Backus also notes that George “was a good writer who once put to paper a few stories of boyhood adventure in the coastal marshes of South Carolina, stories so good his friends hoped for more. He was a warm and generous friend with a sharp sense of humor, and was a gracious and genial host. His standards for the work of scientists were high both for himself and for others, but particularly for himself.” George Grice was a member of numerous professional societies and national and international committees, including the Ocean Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences and the International Commission on the Exploration of the Seas.

Survivors include daughter, Dr. Dorothy “De” Grice, of Philadelphia, PA; son, George D. “Judge” Grice, III, of Charleston, SC; grandchildren, Audrey E. Grice, George D. Grice, IV, Emma L. Grice, and Ariela S. Buxbaum Grice, and partner Mary Laird of East Falmouth, MA.

A graveside service was held March 16, at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, SC. A celebration of life will be held Sunday, May 13, 2001, at Clark Laboratory, fifth floor, Quissett Campus, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Memorial donations may be made to the George D. Grice, Jr., Postdoctoral Endowed Fellowship Fund, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, c/o Development Office, Fenno House, MS#40, Woods Hole, MA 02543.

George D. Grice