After a prolonged battle with various cancers and other complications, George Epple died peacefully on Christmas Eve, 2022. He leaves his wife Carol, son Scott; daughter-in-law Colleen, brother William, and grandchildren Grace, Miles, and Lincoln. He also leaves myriad colleagues and friends after a career of almost 50 years in anthropology.
George was born on May 30, 1943, in Paterson, New Jersey, where he grew up. He graduated from Brown University and received a PhD from Brandeis University in 1973. After brief teaching stints at Northeastern University and Boston University, he took a tenure-track position at Rhode Island College where he taught until retirement in 2009 after which he was granted professor emeritus status.
George carried out doctoral fieldwork in Trinidad, Grenada, and later shifted his research focus to small-scale fisheries on the northeast coast of the United States with particular focus on the island of Cuttyhunk. At Rhode Island College, George was a superb teacher who inspired many students to study anthropology and chaired the Department of Anthropology and Geography there for 21 years. His students particularly liked his field trips to fishing sites in New England. He also served on numerous college committees, often presiding as chair. In 1999, he was awarded the Patrick J. O’Regan Award for Distinguished Service to the college and community.
George was particularly good at organizing and networking. He was a member of the American Anthropological Association and the Northeastern Anthropological Association, serving as president of the NEAA for several years and proving instrumental in organizing and bringing the association’s annual meeting to Rhode Island College on two separate occasions.
George was the consummate family and community man. In addition to being an Eagle Scout, he was the recipient of the Order of the Arrow Lifetime Achievement Award and served as senior assistant scoutmaster for his local Boy Scout troop. He coached youth athletic teams and served on the local Cultural Council. As president and manager of a local woodwind quintet, he brought many concerts to his community and elsewhere. He was also an active and devoted member of his church. George loved anthropology and teaching, fishing, rowing, music, model trains, hiking, kayaking, gardening, and his pet dogs and cats.
Peter S. Allen, professor emeritus, Rhode Island College, with help from the Bedford Citizen newspaper.
Cite as: Allen, Peter S. 2023. “George M. Epple.” Anthropology News website, January 24, 2023.