Thank you for sharing this, Chris. Definitely unexpected and very sad news. I have fond memories of Norm because he graciously allowed me to volunteer in the Cal Academy's collection during its transitional period when it was housed in downtown San Francisco while they worked on constructing its fantastic new home. I was living in San Jose at the time and would take the train into the city on some Saturdays, and Norm would give me tasks to do, mainly working with material from Madagascar. Occasionally, I'd wander around and scope out the magnificent collection - these experiences helped direct my career path towards the collection side of things. You'll be missed, Norm!

Anyone else have any memories to share?


Derek A. Woller

Ph.D. Candidate in Entomology, and Lab Manager
The Song Laboratory of Insect Systematics and Evolution
Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

On Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 10:57 AM, Chris Borkent <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear All,

To those of you who hadn't heard, Norm Penny passed away this past weekend. Norm was the senior collection manager at the California Academy of Sciences for many years and only recently retired. I attach below the message sent out by the Academy. 

Norm was an important and vibrant part of our community both locally and internationally, and will be sorely missed by all of us who had the pleasure to know this gentleman scholar.


Chris Borkent

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jon Foley <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 9:06 PM
Subject: very sad news: Norm Penny
To: Academy All Staff <[log in to unmask]>

Dear Academy Family,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to tell you that Norm Penny, a good friend and long-standing member of our community, passed away on Sunday, July 10th. 

Here is what we know.  Norm was doing field work on Saturday, near Quincy in Plumas County, with his wife Ana — who worked as a botanist at UC-Berkeley.  Apparently, he came down with a severe headache, which sent him back to their motel, where he evidently experienced a massive stroke.  He was immediately taken to a local hospital, and then airlifted to a hospital in Reno.  Unfortunately, he became weaker through the day and eventually passed away on Sunday.  Ana and their son Fabio were with him when he died.

As you all know, Norm was an outstanding scholar, field biologist, collections manager, colleague, and inspiration to many people at the Academy. He was also one of the most gentle and generous people I have ever met, and an amazing storyteller.  He really made the entomology collections come alive during his fabulous tours!

Norm retired as Senior Collections Manager of Entomology in March of 2016 but was still very active at the Academy — in the collections, in supervising volunteers, and in the field. He is a also the recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Academy Fellows for his leadership, exploration, and wealth of noteworthy activities on the Academy’s behalf.  

He was a dedicated member of the Academy family for over 30 years and his loss will be sorely felt.   But his love for science and the natural world will continue to inspire us all.

Please take a moment to remember Norm in the coming days.  He was one of the great ones.  I know I will never forget his generosity, kindness, and his memorable collections tours!

In sadness, Jon

p.s.  We are awaiting communications with his family, and will then share details about their wishes for honoring Norm.

Jonathan Foley, Ph.D.
Executive Director
William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair
California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118

Dr. Chris Borkent
Postdoctoral Researcher
California State Collection of Arthropods, California Department of Food and Agriculture
3294 Meadowview Road,
Sacramento, CA 95832, USA

email: [log in to unmask]
phone: 916-262-1152