In memoriam: Notre Dame paleontologist J. Keith Rigby Jr.

by Michael O. Garvey

In Memoriam

J. Keith Rigby Jr., associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, died Saturday (Nov. 5) at his home in South Bend. He was 64 years old.

A native of Salt Lake City, Rigby was graduated from Brigham Young University in 1971 and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from Columbia University in 1974 and 1977, respectively. He joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1982.

A paleontologist, Rigby taught Notre Dame courses in physical geology, historical geology, environmental geology, sedimentation and stratigraphy. He also lectured on these and other subjects nationwide and abroad.

J. Keith Rigby Jr.

In July 1997, Rigby led a team of volunteers from the Earthwatch Insitute on a paleontological expedition in northeast Montana. At a site near the Fort Peck Reservoir, the team unearthed a massive fossilized skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus widely regarded as the largest such specimen ever found.

In addition to this and numerous other accomplishments in paleontological research, Rigby was popular and much-honored as a teacher at Notre Dame, earning Teacher of the Year awards from Sorin Hall and the College of Engineering and the Distinguished Scholar award from the College of Science.

Along with his wife, Susan, Rigby is survived by six children, Heather Varley, Joel Rigby, Hilary Rigby, Rachel Rigby, Sarah Rigby and Dana Rigby.

Visitation will be held Friday (Nov. 11) from 4 to 8 p.m. at Welsheimer Family Funeral Home (17033 Cleveland Rd., South Bend), and for an hour prior to the funeral service, which will be held Saturday (Nov. 12) at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 930 Park Place, Mishawaka.