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STERLING, KEIR

STERLING, KEIR

STERLING, KEIR

STERLING, Keir Brooks, 82, historian and author, died on September 24, 2016, surrounded by his family. Surviving are his wife of 55 years, Anne (Diller) Sterling, and three sons: Duncan Diller (Ann Hyde), Warner Strong (Erin Skeen) and Theodore Craig (Sara Peters). His grandchildren, all Sterlings, include, Keiran, 15, Alexandra, 12 (Duncan); Aurelia, 10, (Theodore) and Talisker and Odin, both 7 (Warner). Dr. Sterling also leaves his brother, Christopher (Ellen) and two sisters-in-law, Rebecca Sparks (Robert) and Deborah Rieman (Peter) and their respective children. Beloved cousins and life-long friends are Noel Claire Hunt and Brooks de Wetter-Smith. His aunt, Mardee de Wetter; and cousins, Charles, David and Robert de Wetter and families also survive. Many other relatives were a large part of his life. Dr. Sterling was fortunate to pursue two life-long interests in his career: wildlife, especially mammals, and history, in particular military. The wildlife resulted from long tramps with a childhood friend, Newell Mack, in the Wisconsin countryside. His interest in history resulted from growing up in war-time Washington, D.C. His father, Henry Somers Sterling (Louise Noel de Wetter), who was with the O.S.S., stationed throughout Europe, ultimately won the Medal of Freedom for his wartime work. After serving in the U.S. Army, 1954 to 1956, Dr. Sterling earned a PhD in American History at Columbia University in 1973. His dissertation was published as "Last of the Naturalists: The Career of C. Hart Merriam". This established his reputation in the development of biological sciences in America. He became an associate for some years at the American Museum of Natural History, also teaching at Pace and Marymount Universities, as well as the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A Command Historian for the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, and later for CASCOM, he served at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Ft. Lee, Va. A lifelong lover of books and learning, he visited numerous used bookstores the world over, and loved everything related to books including book binding and editing. He was editor of two 30-volume series for Arno Press "Natural Sciences in America" (1974) and "Biologists and Their World" (1978), general editor of "An International History of Mammalogy, Vol. I" (1987), co-editor of "the Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists" (1997). His most recent book was "The American Ornithologists Union: The First Century 1883-1983". For 30 years, he wrote book reviews for Choice, and wrote numerous articles for other publications. An inveterate tea drinker, he learned the art of making and drinking fine teas in the drawing room of his grandmother, Mathilde Louise Hurlbutt von Vetter Rosendahl, a Connecticut Yankee, wed to an Estonian baron, Keir's grandfather. As a boy he was enthralled by their tales of living in Russia. His grandfather worked for the Tzar of Russia, designing an overland railroad to supply the troops. The couple and their two small daughters survived the Russian revolution, escaping on the last train out of St. Petersburg. Locally, in recent years, Dr. Sterling, was an active member of the Richmond Torch Club, the Torch Club of Fredericksburg, and served on the board of the League of Women Voters of the Richmond Metropolitan Area. A memorial service will be held in Washington, D.C. in late autumn. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to The Sierra Club or the Wildlife Conservation Network.

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