James Russell Chaplin


James Russell Chaplin was born on July 16, 1937 in Onslow, Iowa to parents Russell and Harriet Chaplin. Jim's hobbies included reading, comic book collecting, gardening, and exploring the outdoors, particularly fishing and hunting. He loved investing in people and ideas. He loved the oceans. He especially enjoyed spending time with his family. He used the gifts he'd been given to bless others.
Jim was a graduate of Onslow High School, one of seven students in the class of 1955, where he played baseball and basketball. He attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa from 1955-1959, graduating with a B.S. in geology and Spanish. Jim then attended the University of Houston from 1959-1961 where he received his M.S. degree in geology. In the summer of 1960, he attended the Institute of Marine Science at Port Aransas, Texas where he completed coursework in marine geology, marine chemistry, marine microbiology, and marine ecology.
He began a professorship in 1961 at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky where he taught numerous courses in geology and oceanography. While at MSU, he organized and led numerous field trips to marine stations located in Lewes, Delaware, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
In 1967, Jim was granted a faculty sabbatical from Morehead State University to continue his doctoral studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. While at VPI, he served as a research scientist on several cruises aboard Duke University's research vessel, Eastward, collecting geological and biological data along the western margin of the Atlantic Ocean. He returned to MSU in 1969 to continue teaching until taking early retirement in 1982. Jim met his wife, Barbara Lowry-Chaplin at MSU in 1978, and they married in College Park, Maryland on December 31, 1983.
In 1982, Jim moved to Arlington, Texas where he taught geology at Tarrant County Junior College and helped manage Lonestar Comics. In 1983, he accepted a position as geologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey at the University of Oklahoma where he was employed until his retirement in 2011. He authored and coauthored more than 150 publications including peer reviewed journal papers, abstracts, guidebooks, and educational materials for K-12 students and teachers. He extends to his students at MSU and OU his heartfelt appreciation, respect, and gratitude for focusing the passions of his mind to problem solving.
Jim is survived by his wife Barbara Lowry Chaplin of Noble, OK, his daughter Abigail Chaplin-Kyzer and her husband Daniel Kyzer of Corinth, TX, his daughter Kathleen Grzybowski and her husband Dawid Grzybowski of Moore, OK, his sister Kay Chaplin Saelens of Loveland, CO, his mother-in-law Aileen Lowry Allison of Norman, OK, his son Steve Chaplin of Indiana, and his son Kevin Chaplin of Kentucky in addition to many beloved in-laws and nieces and nephews. Family visitation is from 12:00-2:00pm on Tuesday, March 20 at Alameda Baptist Church in Norman, OK with funeral services following at 2:00pm. Condolences may be sent to P.O. Box 1645 Noble, OK 73068. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Hobart W.C. Furbunch Award for Outstanding Field Research in Geology at the University of Houston, a scholarship fund founded by Jim Chaplin and his colleagues to encourage and promote field research by the next generation of young geologists and scholars.
Published on March 17, 2018
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