Table of Contents
Environmental and Engineering Geosciences is available online from GeoScience World
Two events were organized in honor of Jim Slosson at the AEG meeting at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Los Angeles. The first was a memorable field trip to explore the geology of Santa Catalina Island, led by Mark Legg on Monday, September 24. Jim had led a similar field trip for an AEG meeting in the 1960s(?). The second was the symposium "A Tribute to Dr. James E. Slosson" on Thursday, September 27, which featured the following oral presentations:
The Geological Society of America Annual Meeting was October 28-31 at the Colorado Convention Center, Denver. The Slosson Tribute sessions were as follows:
In addition, Vince Cronin gave a brief personal remembrance of Jim at the Engineering Geology Division Luncheon & Awards Ceremony, Monday, October 29, 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Jim and Nancy Slosson departed together, April 28, 2007, and April 27, 2007, on their final journey to the Warner Mountains.
Nancy Jane (Samuel) Slosson, 82, a long-time resident of Sherman Oaks, California, passed away April 27, 2007, from complications of congestive heart failure. Nancy was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 11, 1924. Nancy spent her early childhood in Douglas, Arizona, where her Welsh-born father, John Moore Samuel was a mining engineer, and her mother, Gladys Doane Samuel, was a school teacher She moved with her family to Los Angeles, California, and graduated from Los Angeles High School and the University of Southern California. Nancy was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority at USC and graduated with a BS in Business and Marketing in 1947. Nancy was an avid Trojan football fan, attending games as a school girl, and later, accompanied by her husband. A loyal Trojan fan, Nancy rarely missed a home game in over 65 years.
While at USC, she met and married James Edward Slosson. Nancy was a wildlife enthusiast and actively supported the Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Zoo, as well as other zoos across the country. Whenever she accompanied Jim to geologic conferences, she would always visit the local zoo. Her favorite animal was the Sea Otter, and she contributed to the Long Beach Aquarium Sea Otter Exhibit. Nancy and Jim were active supporters of USC Track and Field for their entire adult life. Nancy served as President and Business Manager for her husband¬¼s consulting geology practice, Engineering Geology Consultants, for over 30 years. Nancy was active in civic affairs, including the Federation of Republican Women¬¼s Club of the San Fernando Valley and the Carrousels, a San Fernando Valley service organization. Nancy was a volunteer at the Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys. Believing in public service, Nancy and Jim often hosted and organized candidate and public forum events in their home and at their favorite Topanga Canyon retreat, the Trippet Ranch. Nancy also volunteered on many local and municipal campaigns.
James E. Slosson, Ph.D., a native of Van Nuys, California, passed away the next day, April 28, 2007 at the age of 84 after a lengthy illness. They moved down the road as they had in life: together. Jim Slosson was born April 12, 1923 in one of the first ranch houses in Van Nuys. He graduated from Van Nuys High School, where he excelled in track competitions. He graduated from the University of Southern California and pursued his passion for track and field events, as well as an eventual profession in geology. Jim Slosson was a three-year varsity letterman on the USC track team in 1946, 1947 and 1948. In 1947, Jim married Nancy Jane Samuel, and began a life together that spanned 60 years.
Jim served in the U.S. Army during World War II, rising to the rank of Second Lieutenant. He also served as a reserve in the Naval Reserve and the California National Guard. Jim graduated from USC in 1950 with a Master¬¼s degree in Geology. After graduation, Jim was an assistant track coach at USC from 1955-1962, under the direction of Coaches Dean Cromwell and Jess Hill. He coached Max Truex, who competed with the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome games. Mel Hein was a member of the USC track team under Assistant Coach Slosson, excelling at the pole vault. Jim took joy in the many accomplishments of his student athletes and pupils, maintaining long relationships with many, near and far. In 1958, Jim received his doctorate from the University and began his career in geologic consulting. Jim was a charter faculty member of Los Angeles Valley College, serving as Professor of Geology and Chair of the Geology Department at Valley College from 1975-1984. He also served as California State Geologist and Chief of the Division of Mines and Geology from 1973 to 1975. As State Geologist, he introduced a series of Guidelines for Practice, which had enormous impact on raising the standard of care of engineering and environmental geologists, not only in California, but nationwide.
Dr. Slosson worked for the City and County of Los Angeles and the State of California. Dr. Slosson helped develop and pass the Seismic Safety Commission Act of 1975, which established the State Seismic Safety Commission to advise the Governor, State Legislature, state and local government on ways to reduce earthquake risk. He served on the Seismic Safety Commission for 8 years. James also served on the State Board of Geologists and Geophysicists. James was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Geological Society of America for 2 years and on the Board of Directors of the Dibblee Geologic Foundation. He was often sought after by the news media as a consultant following numerous earthquakes and landslides in California. He volunteered to develop basic applied geology programs for the education and training of geology inspectors and engineers, and presented numerous talks on earthquakes, landslides and other geologic hazards. Dr. Slosson had published over 100 articles emphasizing the geologic processes associated with landslides, sedimentation and flooding.
Jim and Nancy never missed a USC/UCLA Dual Track Meet. In fact, James watched the 2007 Dual Track Meet with his beloved family in his hospital room the day he passed away.
While their permanent home was located in the San Fernando Valley, Jim and Nancy also spent a great deal of time each year at their cabin in Modoc County, in the little town of Likely, California. The Slosson¬¼s first encountered Modoc County in the 1950¬¼s. They initially enjoyed a very primitive cabin near Soup Springs in Jess Valley, eventually exchanging that for a comfortable log cabin at Pine Shadow Village at the northeastern end of Jess Valley.
Jim acted as the County Geologist for Modoc and Lassen Counties for a number of years and worked on several geologic projects in the area. Coach Slosson also found summer work for many of his track athletes during the summer months in Modoc. They both enjoyed the country life at the end of the meadow in Jess Valley. Jim hunted and fished with Nancy and friends, and Nancy prepared his catches. They also shared a love of horses, golden retrievers and Jack Russell terriers.
Jim and Nancy are survived by their daughter, Bonnie Slosson and her husband, Michael D¬¼Onofrio, of Sacramento, and their son, Thom Slosson, his wife, Lynn, and two grandchildren, Clint, 21, and Katelyn Slosson, 18. Jim is survived by his brother Jack Slosson and his wife, Eleanor, of Carmichael, CA. Jim and Nancy also shared their love with godson Gary Hein and his family of Walnut Creek, and the entire Hein family.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the following organizations: Trojan Force of the USC Track and Field, Dr. James Slosson Academic Achievement Award, Attn: Ron Orr, USC Heritage Hall, Los Angeles, California, 90089-0602; Los Angeles Valley College Foundation, 5800 Fulton Ave., Valley Glen, CA 91401, Attn: Slosson Memorial; Richard O. Stone Scholarship Fund, USC College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, 3551 Trousdale Parkway, ADM 204, Los Angeles, California, 90089-4015; Likely Volunteer Fire Department , PO Box 515, Likely California, 96116; and Great Basin Institute , PO Box C, Cedarville, California, 96104,
Private celebrations of the lives of Jim and Nancy Slosson were held at USC and Likely, California.
James Edward Slosson was born "at the old ranch house" in Van Nuys, California, on April 12, 1923. He died April 28, 2007 in Van Nuys, California, at age 84, having struggled with a number of ailments for an extended period of time..
Jim and his wife Nancy were married for more than 50 years, and were an inseparable team in marriage, business, politics, and life. Nancy succumbed to complications related to congestive heart failure on April 27, 2007. Jim passed away the next day. They moved on down the road as they had lived their lives: together.
Considering his many awards, Jim noted, "I am very proud of each one! They make me want to work even harder and longer. I can't help but feel these awards are excellent tributes to the great instructors I had at USC such as K.0. Emery, Bill Easton, Orville Bandy, Duncan McNaughton, Tom Clements, geographer Dave Lantis, Stan Butler in Civil Engineering, Dean Cromwell from the Athletic Department, and my classmates Dick Stone and Donn Gorsline." (http://www.usc.edu/dept/earth/people/newsletter/1999newsletter.pdf)
From Gregory Farrand of Ninyo & Moore Geotechnical and Environmental Consultants
"...the project I recall most fondly while at Slosson & Associates was a geologic mapping study for a simple, new single-family residence in Encino. After working for Jim for about one month, he entrusted me with all of the geologic field reconnaissance and to write the report. For starters, it took me two days to put pen to paper. I couldn't think of how to begin the report or what I should say. Finally, after watching me flail around, Jim stepped in to help me write the report. I am sure I broke the budget. In college, I had thought I was a fairly good report writer. But Jim really showed me the way. After completing one report, everything else seemed go much easier and Jim willingly trusted me with more complicated projects. In all, James Slosson was an excellent employer and a mentor. The field of Engineering Geology is much improved by Dr. Slosson's contributions. We will all miss him."
Read more of Farrand's letter at bearspace.baylor.edu/Vince_Cronin/www/Slosson/FarrandLet.html
From the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) Newsletter of January, 1998 (www.seaint.org/seaosc/newsletter/0001-scnl-0198.html)
James holds a Ph.D. from USC and became professor of geology at the Los Angeles Valley Community College, where he also served as chair of the geology department from 1950 through 1965. He went on to work for the City and County of L.A. and the State of California. He conducted a workshop at USC on seismic mitigation management for seaports, volunteered to develp basic applied geology programs for the education and training of grading inspectors and engineers and presented numerous talks on earthquakes, landslides and other geologic hazards. He has published more than 100 articles emphasizing the geologic processes associated with landslides, sedimentation and flooding. He co-authored a book published in 1992 titled, "Forensic Engineering: Environmental Case Histories for Civil Engineers and Geologists."
From the online CalTrack News (www.caltrack.com/news/conning110502.html)
Coach Jim Slosson By Bill Taylor. My entire development in track came about because the guy in the barefeet came over to North Hollywood High School and told me in 1951 that "I could be an outstanding collegiate runner." While few of you are interested in going back to my track clockings because of an over dose of pictures and write ups I have forced on you over prior years, I will guess that my involvement and leadership in the sport pleases you. So, here is Jim Slosson, a coach who gave me the confidence to become a part of the big time track world. The photograph is from 1941, ten years before he came over to the North Hollywood High School field. Oh, you might be interested in knowing that he ran the 440 in 47.7 on a dirt track relay leg at Van Nuys, and was #2 in the nation with a 1:56.2 half mile time. Yes, on dirt, too. Hail to Slosson. My first mentor...
Bill Taylor coaches at Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo. Taylor was coached by Jim Slosson at North Hollywood High School in 1951 and 1952 and Los Angeles Valley College in 1953 and 1954. Los Angeles Valley won the California Community College track championship in 1953.
When Robert Gray was given the Distinguished Educator Award by the Pacific Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 1998, the citationist (G.C. "Butch" Brown) wrote "Bob is a native Californian, born in Los Angeles and raised in Pasadena. When he entered college, his goals were to major in physical education with a minor in chemistry and become a coach. While attending Valley College, his track coach suggested that he take some geology courses. The coach, Jim Slosson, just happened to teach these courses. This move changed his direction of study." (www.vgms.org/bt/vgms0410.htm)
Stephen M Testa, the Executive Officer of the California State Mining and Geology Board, "took his first geology class under Dr. James Slosson, former State Geologist of California," at San Fernando Valley Junior College. (www.consrv.ca.gov/OMR/smara/newsletter/Fall%202005.pdf)
David Rogers wrote about Jim Slosson's role in creating guidelines for the professional practice of geology: "In 1973, the new State Geologist, Jim Slosson, introduced the first of a series of "Guidelines for Practice," one of which (CDMG Notes Number 37) dealt specifically with what subjects, methods of investigation, and conclusions/recommendations should be included in A-P Zone investigations. The other Guideline Notes were issued in 1975. In October 1975, Note 49 was issued. It dealt specifically with evaluation of surface fault rupture (and is still included in Appendix D of CDMG SP 42). The Guidelines were adopted by the SMGB in 1978. In 1986, the State Board of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists rescinded such guidelines after they had been used as a de facto form of standard-of-care in a lawsuit against a prominent southern California geotechnical firm. This lawsuit also involved the Association of Engineering Geologists, who had published Slosson's (1984) article on the CDMG Guidelines, noting that they had originally been drafted by the southern California Section of AEG. At the time (1986), the Board of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists felt such action was warranted in the interest of limiting professional liability. Having been published, these guidelines are still being utilized in some areas, even though the State Board of Registration provides no official sanction of them. The membership of AEG needs to consider the value of endorsement versus the supposed reduction in risk from lawsuits being brought against them." (web.umr.edu/~rogersda/umrcourses/peer_review/sciencevs.htm)
At lunch one day, Cliff Gray (former CDMG geologist) turned to Slosson and said, "Jim, it's a good thing we started mapping the San Andreas Fault when we did. There are so many houses along it now, it would be hard to locate it."
Following a tradition that went back to California's mission days, Jim raised cattle in a canyon along the Malibu coastline until (approximately) the early 1990s. His was probably the last "cattle ranch" in Malibu, and Jim could rightfully be called a cowboy. Like G.K. Gilbert, Jim thought that the best type of "field vehicle" for a geologist is a horse.
Jim was a geological expert witness in countless legal cases. Once, while he was testifying and using a geological map as an exhibit, the opposing attorney objected to the "explanation" part of the map that defined how color and symbols were used to identify and characterize geological units on the map. The attorney contended that the map's explanation constituted extraneous subjective material, and the judge ordered the explanation to be removed from the map. My understanding is that it was physically cut off of the map. As testimony continued, the interrogating attorney resumed by saying, "Now Dr. Slosson, redirecting your attention to the geologic map..." Jim interrupted and said that there is no longer a geologic map in the courtroom, because the "explanation" is an essential component of all geologic maps. The judge promptly stopped the testimony and cited Jim for contempt of court.
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Additional contributions of photos, stories or biographical information for this site can be sent to
Vince Cronin via email at Vince_Cronin@baylor.edu
or via physical mail at
Vince Cronin, Geology Department, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97354, Waco, TX 76798-7354
...the physical address for non-postal deliveries is Baylor Science Building, Room D-409, 101 Bagby Avenue, Waco, TX 76706
Slosson and Associates is currently owned and operated by Jim's son Thomas L. Slosson. The firm is located at 4685 Runway Street, Unit G., Simi Valley, CA 93063.
Telephone: (805) 579-7833 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was revised September 26, 2008
The URL of this page is http://bearspace.baylor.edu/Vince_Cronin/www/Slosson/index.html