Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version



Journal of Mammalogy (2011) 92(6): 1,418-1,432.


Copyright 2012, American Society of Mammalogists. Used by permission.


Jerry Ronald Choate (1943–2009) had just retired as Director of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History and Professor of Biological Sciences, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas, at the time of his death. Jerry served the American Society of Mammalogists in numerous capacities, including Recording Secretary, First Vice President, and most notably as a member and chair of the Board of Trustees.

The hallmark of Jerry’s life was to turn the ordinary into something magnificent. Whether it was his photography that changed an ordinary landscape into a magnificent masterpiece, or his convincing a reluctant graduate student that they could do good science, assistant professors that they could be good mentors, colleagues that they could do good science, it was always the same. He exuded quiet confidence that it could be done with hard work and perseverance. In many ways Jerry Choate was both one of a kind and an exemplar of his generation of field mammalogists. His personality was both complex and multilayered on the one hand, while straightforward eyes on the road on the other hand. Jerry Choate’s huge and lasting successes in education, science, and university and community development probably exceeded his expectations for himself but were inevitable, given his dogged determination and work ethic. Jerry was a finisher.