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Celebrating the Life of

John R. Borchert

1918 – 2001


Saturday, April 28, 2001

Ted Mann Concert Hall

University of Minnesota



"One night we were flying in a cloudless sky in wonderfully transparent polar air above the palette of night-time black that was most of the earth below. As usual, most seats were empty. In my part of the cabin there was only a late-middle-age couple, who had boarded at Cleveland, sitting behind me.

As we crossed the western shore of Lake Erie, I could recognize Toledo--a bright island of light, indented by the black of the Maumee estuary. Instinctively, I jumped across the aisle to the empty seats on the other side to look at the massive sea of light that was metropolitan Detroit. There it was, and in the same panorama were Flint, Bay City and Saginaw, on the horizon, with Lansing and Jackson coming up. Now back to my seat to look for Fort Wayne!

The woman in the seat behind me said. "What are you doing" I said, "You ought to get up and see this. The map of southern Michigan and northern Indiana is all right down there for you to study!" She crossed the aisle, then back, and said to her husband, "Harry! You have to wake up and see this!" Then we all went back and forth watching Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, South Bend and the St. Joe valley cities as they rolled out beneath us. We talked a little about the patterns and what they mean. Finally the brilliant mass of metropolitan Chicago, punctuated by the ring of fire of the steel mills and oil refineries of the Calumet, and the bright orange patch of the central city’s over-priced crime-watch street lights.

When they got off at O’Hare, the two fellow travelers thanked me profusely. "Best flight we’ve ever had," they said. "We learned so much about where we are." "It was just a big real-world, map", I said."

Maps And Knowledge: Experiencing the Beauty and Excitement of Maps, by John R. Borchert, A Lecture in Connection with the Exhibit on "Maps And Art", Weisman Museum, University of Minnesota, October 21, 1999.


Thank you John, for enriching and enlightening all of our journeys.



Celebrating the Life of John R. Borchert

Welcome and Introduction

John Adams


John Borchert as a scholar and a member of the academic community

Brent Allison

Philip Raup

Fred Lukermann

Robert Holt

Philip Porter


John Borchert as a teacher and mentor to generations of students

William Casey

Ronald Abler

Rob Britton


John Borchert as a regional citizen, shaping thought and policy

Will Craig

Gerald Christenson

Faye Sleeper

Barbara Lukermann


John Borchert as a husband, father,grandfather, great-grandfather and friend

Paul Boyer

Herbert Isbin

Barb Borchert

Erik Anderson

Dave Borchert



John Adams


Special thanks go to Jeffrey Van for the music preceding and following the program.


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