Spring 2012
Photo BY Mark Tardif
Photo by Mark Tardif

E. Donaldson Koons, chair of Colby’s Geology Department for 41 years and Maine’s first commissioner of the Department of Conservation, died April 9 in Waterville at 94. Hired as chair of the department, he arrived at Colby in January 1947 and retired as Dana Professor in 1982. He continued to teach Jan Plans another six years, and regularly attended Geology Department events until last fall.

Koons was advisor to the Outing Club and helped restore the Mountain Farm Ski Area as the Colby Ski Slope in the late 1940s. He chaired Maine’s Water and Air Environmental Improvement Commission from 1969 to 1972 and was appointed to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection board in 1972. He was named commissioner of the Department of Conservation and chair of the Land Use Regulation Commission and served 1973-74. He chaired the boards of Coburn Classical Institute, Oak-Grove Coburn, and Unity College, and at age 82 he served as interim president of Unity.

Born in Korea in 1917, he attended Wooster College and transferred to Columbia, where he earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. He served in military intelligence in East Asia during World War II. An expert on the geology of the Grand Canyon area, he rafted the Colorado River through the canyon at age 90 with family and friends. 

Predeceased by his wife, Elizabeth Ortquist Koons, he is survived by four children, Robert ’68, John ’72, Peter, and Linnea Koons Mathews ’79, and five grandchildren. A memorial service is planned at 2 p.m. July 29 in Lorimer Chapel.