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Richard Joseph Gentile, Professor Emeritus, Geology, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Professor Gentile was born June 25th, 1929 in St. Louis Missouri to Richard Gentile and Anne Lucille Kretsch. In 1937 the family moved to Meramec Heights, St. Louis County, Graduating from public school #52 (Barretts) in 1943, Valley Park High School in 1947, the University of Missouri, Columbia, receiving B.A. and M.A. Degrees, Geology, in 1956 and 1958, respectively, and a PhD degree, Geology, University of Missouri, Rolla in 1965. He was employed by the Missouri Geological Survey, Rolla 1958-1966, coming to Kansas City in 1966 as assistant professor, advancing to full professor in 1974.
He was a dedicated educator and researcher, an outstanding teacher who influenced the lives of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1999, but stayed active in teaching, research, and community service. He was a world traveler, having attended conferences in 40 countries to gain geologic information that he used in his classes. He conducted over 200 geology field trips, including directing twenty- 5-week summer field camps in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
He is the author of over 50 scientific articles, as well as the Textbook Rocks and Fossils of the Central United States. Most of his publications deal with the geology and paleontology of the Greater Kansas City area. He enjoyed constructing geologic maps, and with his students, mapped over 2,500 square miles of west central Missouri. As an officer and consultant to several geological organizations, he participated in site investigation studies for the Trans-Missouri River water Tunnel, Christopher Bond (paseo) Bridge, and the UMKC Flarsheim Hall.
He served as curator of the Richard L. Sutton Museum of Geosciences and contributed several vertebrate fossils to the museum collection obtained in field excursions to the Badlands of South Dakota. Over a period of 40 years, he conducted museum tours to over 10,000 visitors – mostly classes of school children – and gave over 100 talks to amateur geology clubs on a variety of subjects.
He is a Korean War veteran and served as Pfc in a heavy weapons infantry company, 23 Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, and participated in the battle of Heartbreak Ridge, August to November, 1951, receiving the combat infantryman’s badge and the bronze medal.
His parents, sisters Eleanor and LaVerne and brother Lawrence preceded him in death. He leaves behind 3 nephews: Kenneth Gentile, Houston Texas, Curtis Gentile, Pensacola, Florida, and Paul Fieseler, Los Angeles, California, 8 grandnieces and grandnephews, 5 great grandnieces and grandnephews, thousands of former students, hundreds of esteemed colleagues, one of the most comprehensive analyses of the ground underneath the greater Kansas City Area ever to be compiled by a single person, several museum attractions, and a large collection of broken hearts.
Richard spent every day, pretty much up until the very end, doing what he loved – teaching, providing museum tours, and expanding on his ever growing orchard in his home.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Richard J. Gentile Scholarship fund, Department of Geosciences University of Missouri-Kansas City.
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