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John R. Borchert

October 24, 1918 – March 30, 2001

Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Geography,

University of Minnesota

Loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and mentor to generations of students from Minnesota and throughout the world.  Died March 30, 2001 after an extraordinary life of scientific study, teaching and travel dedicated to the understanding and advancement of our community and world. 

A Life’s Calling: 
"For me, life as a geographer has been a succession of discoveries, beginning by chance at a particular time and place, and each leading to another."

On Maps:
"It would be hard to imagine a more intellectually liberating experience than backing off and looking at one’s self on the face of the earth in this way. Nor would it be easy to think of any more efficient way to understand the locations and interactions among a great variety of day-to-day activities while, at the same time helping in the ultimate scientific quest to understand the role of humanity on the earth."

Hooked on Geography

John had to report to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin for discharge from the military in 1945. Returning to Crown Point, he passed through Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin..…Jane suggested that I stop at Madison and talk with ‘those men,’ Finch and Trewartha" (leading American geographers). 

"Prof. Finch received me graciously. We talked at length about my background and interests. Presently, he looked at his watch and observed that he had a class to teach in a few minutes on Marine West Coast climates. ’Would you like to give the lecture?’, he asked."

"At the end of the hour, I was drained; the blackboard was filled with outline headings and map sketches; and the class applauded. I had found the field. I was hooked, for good."


A Memorial Celebration of John Borchert’s Life

Ted Mann Concert Hall
West Bank, University of Minnesota
Saturday April 28, 2001

1:00 PM

          Preceding:  The John R. Borchert Map Library in the basement of Wilson library will open at 11:00 AM for informal visiting.

Following:   Everyone is invited to a reception in the atrium of the Carlson School of Management.

Call for Papers:
We would appreciate receiving favorite memories or thoughts involving John. Ideally, we’d like to share those remembrances with his community of friends. Notes or favorite photos that arrive by April 22 will be compiled and available at the celebration and on the family web site:\john.

You can e-mail notes to or mail them to:

JRB Celebration
c/o David Borchert
135 Edgewood Ave. S.
Golden Valley, MN 55426

If you would like your note read at the event, let us know when you send it to us. If you would like to speak at the celebration, please notify us by April 22 to help us plan the event.

Memorials preferred to the John R. Borchert Map Library Endowment Fund and can be mailed to:
        Department of Geography
        414 Social Science
        University of Minnesota
        Minneapolis, MN 55455

Parking is reserved for those attending the memorial celebration in the 19th Avenue Ramp, which is connected via skyway to the Carlson School of Management.