The International Geographical Union regrets to announce the passing of two of its great servants.  Former President (and first female President) of the IGU, Professor Anne Buttimer, passed away last week – just a few days after the death of former IGU Vice-President Professor Masatoshi Yoshino (see below).  Professor Buttimer’s obituary was compiled by her colleagues, Alun Jones and Stephen Mennell, who are duly acknowledged.  Professor Yoshino’s brief biography that follows, was compiled by current IGU President Yukio Himiyama.  The IGU extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of these two great Geographers.

Anne Buttimer (1937–2017)

Geography has lost one of its true stars with the passing of Anne Buttimer on 15 July.  Anne devoted much of her life to the discipline of Geography and was a staunch supporter of its goals and values.  Her passion for the subject transmitted to all who had the good fortune to meet her. She was generous with her time, praise and compassion. She was devoted to her country and its international promotion and reputation.

Anne was a graduate of University College Cork, and after gaining her Master’s degree in 1959, she became a Dominican nun in Seattle. She remained in the order for 17 years. She received her PhD in Geography at the University of Washington (Seattle) in 1965. During her distinguished career she held research and teaching positions in Belgium, Canada, France, Scotland, Sweden, and the USA. She was appointed Professor of Geography at University College Dublin (UCD) in 1991, a post she held until her not-very-retired ‘retirement’ in 2003. After that, Anne continued to work relentlessly, attending overseas meetings, giving invited lectures and engaging in debates on the promotion of social science, European cooperation and the world of geographical knowledge production and its circulation.

Anne possessed a steely determination that would see her rise to become President of the International Geographical Union (2000–4) and the first geographer to be elected Vice-President of Academia Europaea in 2012. She was a powerful advocate of the discipline. She was truly international in her work, vision and activities; a gifted multilingual scholar with a sharp intellect. Her scholarship on place, space and the spirituality of everyday human existence was truly ground breaking.  One paper that had exceptional impact was “Grasping the dynamism of lifeworld”, which appeared in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers in 1976, and has been cited well over 700 times. It drew upon the social phenomenology that was then widely influential in the other social sciences, and applied it to the culturally defined spatiotemporal setting or horizon of everyday life. In her work she promoted the emancipatory role of humanism, and championed calls for Western scholars to seek better communication with colleagues from other cultures to address global environmental challenges. Anne’s work received deservedly numerous international awards and honours. Most recently these included: the Wahlberg Medal of  the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography in  2009; the Lifetime Achievement honour from the Association of American Geographers, presented to her at the Annual Conference of the AAG in Tampa in 2014; and the Vautrin Lud prize (often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize’ in Geography) in 2014.

Anne was deeply committed to her family, friends and colleagues and she will be greatly missed by us all.

Alun Jones, Stephen Mennell

Short Biographical Sketch of Late Professor Masatoshi Yoshino

Dr. Masatoshi Yoshino, a distinguished Japanese physical geographer who served the IGU as the founder and the Chair of the Commission on Climatology (1988-1992) and as a Vice President (1992-1996), died on 4th July 2017 at the age of 89. He was a devoted scholar, and kept writing and publishing quality articles till the very last moment of his life. Many people might remember him not only as a respectable scientist, but also as an able and reliable organizer or leader, as can be seen in the success of the International Geographical Congress in Tokyo in 1980 which he conducted as the Secretary General. Please see below for further information about Professor Yoshino.


1951-1953 Geoscience Department, Tokyo Bunrika University, M.Sci. in Geography

1961      Doctor of Science, Tokyo Kyoiku University


1953-1967 Research Assistant, Geoscience Department, Tokyo Kyoiku University

1961-1963 Alexander von Humboldt Scholarship Researcher at University of Bonn

1967-1968 Guest Professor, University of Heidelberg

1967-1969 Associate Professor, Faculty of Literature, Hosei University

1969-1974 Professor, Faculty of Literature, Hosei University

1974-1992 Professor, Faculty of Earth Science, University of Tsukuba

1992-1998 Professor, Faculty of Literature, Aichi University

1992-2017 Emeritus Professor, University of Tsukuba

2001-2010 Senior Special Academic Advisor at United Nations University

Academic Activity outside University

1987-1993 Council Member, Science Council of Japan

1988-1992 Chair, IGU Commission on Climatology

1990-1992 President, Association of Japanese Geographers

1992-1996 Vice President, IGU


1991      Indian Meteorological Prize

1992      Alexander von Humboldt Prize

1997      Fujiwara Prize from the Meteorological Society of Japan

2000      IGU Lauréat d’Honneur

2006      Romania Geographical Society Prize

2007      Luke Howard Award of International Association for Urban Climate