Florence Robertson

1909 - 1954

Florence Robertson was born in Paris, Texas, November 11, 1909. She attended high school in Bonham, Texas, graduating in 1927. Entering junior college in Paris, Texas, she received her junior certificate in 1929, and enrolled in Texas Technological College in Lubbock, Texas, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in mathematics and a minor in education from that institution in 1935. The following year she received the Master of Arts degree from the same institution in physics and mathematics with a geophysical thesis. During the summer of 1936 she taught as an instructor in physics at Texas Technological College. In the Fall of 1936 she entered the Graduate School of Saint Louis University with a graduate fellowship in geophysics. Her graduate program at Saint Louis University in the Department of Geophysics consisted of a major in geophysics with minors in physics and mathematics. In 1939 she was appointed to an instructorship in geophysics, at the same time working toward the degree of Doctor of Philosophy which she received in 1945.

Florence's father had died while she was still quite young. Her mother had married again but the only child of this second marriage was carried away by diptheria while the family was living at the old homestead near Windom, Texas. Not long afterward her mother also died.

Most of her relatives were Baptists but when Florence came to Saint Louis she was a member of the Church of Christ. Soon after her arrival at Saint Louis University she became interested in the Catholic religion and after a long course of instructions and private study she entered the Catholic Church at Easter, 1938 and remained a very earnest, sincere and zealous Catholic until her death.

In order to finance her education at the University, it was necessary for her to accept part time employment, first as a graduate fellow and later as an instructor. She was thus able to devote only a small portion of her time to graduate study so that her progress toward the doctorate, while slow, was solid and thorough and when she received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in geophysics in June, 1945, she was immediately advanced to the rank of assistant professor. With the founding of the Institute of Technology in 1944 she had prepared herself to take an active part in the development of the curriculum in geophysical engineering. As a consequence her promotion was unusually rapid. She was made an associate professor in 1948 and a full professor in 1951.

From the beginning Doctor Robertson was active in professional and scientific societies. For several years she held the office of Secretary of the Saint Louis Chapter of the society of Sigma Xi. She was a member of the Seismological Society of America and Secretary of its Eastern Section, then Vice Chairman, and was finally elected Chairman. She held the office of Secretary of the Section of Seismology of the American Geophysical Union and was an active member of the Executive Committee of the Union. She was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, and was Chairman of the Publications Committee of the Subdivision of Geophysics of the AIME. She held membership in the mathematical honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon, the Saint Louis Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Engineering Education, and was Chairman of the Section of Geology and Geophysics of the Missouri Academy of Sciences.

Her untimely death at the height of her professional career is a great loss, not merely to Saint Louis University but to the earth sciences and geophysical engineering the world over. She died at the age of forty-five November 18, 1954 in Wichita Falls, Texas.

MEMORIAL OF DOCTOR FLORENCE ROBERTSON, James B. Macelwane, S. J., Earthquake Notes, vol. 25, 1954, pp. 42-43, Eastern Section, Seismological Society of America.