In Memoriam

The WHA benefits from the people who have been long-time, loyal members. Their service to the organization and contributions to the field have enhanced our understanding of the North American West. We do not take it lightly when we lose members, as these individuals were valuable to the western history community. This "In Memoriam" page is a space dedicated to the legacy of those we have lost--our friends, colleagues, mentors, teachers, scholars. 

Robert "Bob" Trennert

Dr. Robert "Bob" Trennert, Jr. passed away February 15, 2019 at his home in Arizona. He was 81 years old. 

Professor Trennert was a charter member of the Western History Association and a member of the Emeritus College at Arizona State University. Trennert arrived at ASU after teaching at Temple University and earlier finishing a graduate degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1969. Prior to his Ph.D. Trennert earned an M.A. from Los Angeles State College in 1963 and a B.A. from Occidental College in 1961. Trennert’s research efforts have produced five books: Alternative to Extinction (1975), Indian Traders on the Middle Border (1981), The Phoenix Indian School (1988),  White Man’s Medicine (1998), and Riding the High Wire: Aerial Mine Tramways in the West (2001). Trennert also published over thirty articles in scholarly journals, and nearly 100 book reviews over the course of his career.

Professor Trennert’s teaching and research interests focused on American Indian history, the Southwest, and the American West, with special interests in American Indian policy, Indian education and Indian health. His grants and awards include National Park Service, NEH, and ASU research grants, the Arizona Humanities Council Distinguished Scholar Award, and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Western Heritage Award. His professional activities include service on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Historical Foundation, the Arizona Historical Sites Review Committee, the Arizona Humanities Council, the Council of the Western History Association, and in 1997 he served as President of the Mining History Association. In 2003 Dr. Trennert retired from teaching at Arizona State University where he had served on numerous graduate student committees, served as Department Chair, and regularly encouraged graduate students to attend conferences and meet people who were doing work in which they were interested. 

Thomas Charlton

Baylor University is mourning the passing of WHA member Thomas Charlton, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History, who served the University for 40 years, including most notably as founding director of the University’s Institute for Oral History and director of The Texas Collection. Dr. Charlton died Jan. 25 in Fort Worth at the age of 82. Please visit the Baylor University website to continue reading...

Louise Pubols

By Stephen Aron

The Western History Association has established the Louise Pubols Public History Fund in memory of Louise Pubols, who passed away in July. The Pubols Fund will provide financial assistance for public historians to attend the annual meeting of the WHA. It is appropriate that the fund be directed to this purpose, for Louise Pubols was a pre-eminent public historian, who by her example and her exertions increased the profile of public history within the WHA. It is also fitting that this tribute draws together the reminiscences of several of Louise’s friends and colleagues, because Louise, as an esteemed museum professional, understood that collaboration makes for better history – and better living.

Louise received her undergraduate degree from Brown University. She then completed an M.A. in public history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before heading to the University of Wisconsin, where William Cronon chaired her doctoral committee. Following graduate school, Louise worked first at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles and then as Chief Curator of the History Department at the Oakland Museum of California.

Louise is probably best known to members of the Western History Association for her 2010 book, The Father of All: The de la Guerra Family, Power, and Patriarchy in Mexican California. The recipient of major prizes from the Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the Organization of American Historians, The Father of All demolished long-standing myths about pre-American California as a colorful, custom-bound world apart. In place of this fantasy past, The Father of All showed a family and a society caught up in, yet not wholly overcome by, the global economic and political developments of the first half of the nineteenth century. Its illuminating research, its absorbing writing, and its persuasive revision of California history ensure the book a long shelf life.

As with her publications and exhibitions, so, too, in her service to the WHA, was Louise, in Matthew Klingle’s words, “a fierceadvocate for sharing the best scholarship with a wide public audience.” That commitment marked her recent tenure on the Council of the WHA, as well as her stint as co-chair of the local arrangements committee for the 2011 meeting in Oakland. As her co-chair Rose Marie Beebe remembered, Louise talked her into the undertaking by likening the assignment to “organizing a giant wedding reception, except this one had tours!” Thanks to Louise’s “professionalism, attention to detail, and collaborative nature,” all of “the parts and pieces” that let conference-goers experience what the host site has to offer came “together seamlessly.”

“Louise inspired a lot of people in a lot of ways,” summarized Greg Smoak. “She was a historian,” whose “work illustrated how academic research and public practice are part of the same endeavor, and indeed, how each can inform the other and make it better.” To improve our western histories (and our Western History Association), Louise devoted herself to building bridges and sustaining conversations between academic and public historians.

What’s more, added Klingle, “she could make a damn fine cocktail to lubricate any social occasion.” That talent reached back at least to Louise’s graduate school days, where Shelby Balik recalled her “fabulous dinner and cocktail parties.” The “food and drinks were outstanding, but the hospitality was even better.” And so was the mentorship that Louise provided to students who followed her at UW-Madison and who shared her passion for Badger football and basketball teams.

Echoing the sentiments of many of Louise’s friends, Balik concluded that above all, we will remember “how Louise lived purposefully, fully, and bravely -- even as she faced great uncertainty over the course of her illness. In the past several years, she attended and presented at conferences, launched projects, married, traveled widely and adventurously with [her husband] Jay [Taylor], faithfully maintained friendships, and graced all who knew her with her characteristic sense of humor, honesty, generosity, and kindness. We will miss her.”

The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas.

The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!

Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

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Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860