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Monday, February 24, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Stan Mallory loved to share his knowledge of the Earth

Seattle Times staff reporter

Stan Mallory really came alive at home composing music on the piano or out in the field studying the Earth's makeup with students.

Mr. Mallory, a Renaissance man of sorts who willingly shared his knowledge, taught geology at the University of Washington. Later, he became curator of geology at the Burke Museum.

Retired professor V. Standish Mallory died Feb. 15 of heart failure. He was 83.

"He was tireless in his pursuit of things for the public to see. He was very public-spirited," said Arn Slettebak, exhibit curator at the Burke.

For example, Mr. Mallory obtained the Burke's dinosaur, believed to be the only real dinosaur skeleton in the region.

"My best memories were when I used to go to the museum with him and work with him down in the basement," said his son Peter. "He would show me the things he was into. I don't think I'd help that much. But I'd go through his catalogs."

Mr. Mallory was born in Englewood, N.J., in 1919 and grew up in East Orange, N.J. At his mother's insistence, he started playing the piano at age 5. In high school, he had his own jazz band and occasionally played alto sax with Duke Ellington's band when it came through town.

Oberlin College in Ohio awarded him a four-year scholarship in piano and piano composition. At the same time, he majored in the geological sciences.

He and his wife, Miriam, met in a botany class at Oberlin.

In World War II, which interrupted his studies and their courtship, Mr. Mallory served as a staff sergeant in Army intelligence in the Pacific theater.

He returned to finish at Oberlin and marry "Mimi," as he called her, in 1946. The couple then drove across the country so Mr. Mallory could study with a certain professor at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, he earned master's and doctorate degrees in paleontology.

A job offer to teach and research at the UW brought the couple to Seattle, where they raised four children.

"He loved teaching," Miriam Mallory recalled. "He always said you can't teach geology out of a book. You've got to show them a rock and a mountain."

After a class expedition, Mr. Mallory would bring the students home for dinner. "Which was neat for me because I got to know them, too," his wife said.

His colleague and friend Slettebak describes the Mallorys as "always positive. No matter what happened to them in their lives, they were totally upbeat and happy."

Mr. Mallory tried to pass on his passion for geology to his children, taking them on camping trips that often turned into minigeological expeditions.

"Now, I wish I'd paid more attention," said his daughter, Ingrid. "He was very intelligent. I think all of us kind of wanted to be like him."

Mr. Mallory joined the Burke after it was built in the 1960s, and he is remembered there as a brilliant gentleman with a great sense of humor who treated his volunteers with deep respect.

The professor retired in 1984 because hip problems kept him from hiking with students, his wife said. After retirement, Mr. Mallory volunteered at the Burke and played the piano and composed music, to his friends' and family's pleasure.

He is survived by his wife, Miriam; daughter Ingrid of Eugene, Ore.; and sons, Karl of Colville, Stevens County, Stefan of Inchelium, Ferry County, and Peter of Seattle. He also had 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. next Monday at Columbia Lutheran Home, 4700 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103. Remembrances may be sent to the Burke Memorial Washington State Museum Geology Department, Box 353010, Seattle, WA 98195-3010, or to Columbia Lutheran Home.

Marsha King: 206-464-2232 or mking@seattletimes.com

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