In memoriam

Portrait of Donald Rimstidt
Professor J. Donald Rimstidt

Dr. J. Donald Rimstidt, an Emeritus Professor in our department, passed away peacefully this morning, March 24, 2019, at his home after a brief battle with a sudden illness.

Don was a long-tenured professor in our department, having served as department chair in the mid-2000’s and, since 2010, as an Emeritus Professor.  Don was an internationally renowned geochemist who literally wrote the book on geochemical rate modeling.  He spent most of his career at land-grant universities, having received his BS at Purdue and PhD at Penn State before coming to VT.  (An MS at Indiana and a one-year stint at the USGS complete his resumé.)

Don was a generous mentor whose door was always open to students, faculty, and staff.  He was a beloved colleague and collaborator who worked across scientific disciplines to solve both fundamental and applied problems in geochemistry.  He was an extraordinarily active emeritus professor, coming to the office every day, serving on graduate committees, publishing original research, and teaching right up until the end.  We will miss him greatly.

Our thoughts and condolences go to Don’s widow, Barbara, and his entire family.  We will pass along any information about memorial services as appropriate. 

The Official Virginia Tech News' announcement can be seen here:

To those who would like to make a donation in memory of Don, his wife Barbara has requested that memorial contributions be directed toward the J.D. Rimstidt Field Trip Fund in the Geosciences Department.

1. Send donations in care of the VTF: J D Rimstidt Field Trip Fund (860505)

University Gateway Center(0336)
902 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg VA 24060

2. Or, give on line: and do the following:

  • Insert the amount of the gift and click “Give Today"
  • On the next page, under “Select an Area”, pick College of Science. Under “Select a Fund”, pick Other. A new field called “Designation” will appear; enter J D Rimstidt Field Trip Fund there.


Robert Tracy
Professor Robert J. Tracy

The Department of Geosciences mourns the loss of Professor Robert J. Tracy, who died on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, after a year-long battle with liver cancer.  He was 74.

Bob was a stalwart of our department for many years, having served as a professor, department chair, and Director of the Museum of Geosciences.  He was a generous colleague, a connoisseur of wine and monazite, a peerless microprobe-whisperer, and a selfless mentor to students and junior faculty alike.  He leaves a void that will be impossible to fill.

Bob joined Virginia Tech in 1986, in what was then called the Department of Geological Sciences.  He made many contributions to metamorphic petrology and was very active in several professional societies, especially the Geological Society of America, which he served as a Council Member from 2011-2014, and in which he was elected a Fellow. He remained an active, full-time professor in our department until the end.

Funeral arrangements are private, but a lovely tribute to Bob’s life can be found here.

With a gift from Bob’s estate, and the help of our alumni and friends, the department has established the Robert Tracy Student Research Fund to honor and remember Bob’s deep commitment to the students of Virginia Tech.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Robert Tracy Student Research Fund in the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech. Donations are made payable to the Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. with the memo “Robert Tracy Student Research Fund (877588)” and mailed to: Virginia Tech, University Development (0336), 902 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg VA 24061. Or you can give online by visiting and do the following:

  • Insert the amount of the gift and click “Give Today"
  • On the next page, under “Select an Area”, pick College of Science. Under “Select a Fund”, pick Other. A new field called “Designation” will appear; enter "Robert Tracy Student Research Fund 877588" there.