Linda S. Cordell, former longtime director of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and a pre-eminent archaeologist of the American Southwest, died last week in Santa Fe, N.M.
The reported cause of her March 29 death was a heart attack. She was 69.
Cordell made her mark in Boulder as director of the CU Museum of Natural History from 1993 to 2006, during which time she was also on the CU faculty as a professor of anthropology. She continued to hold emeritus status both in the Department of Anthropology and at the museum.
More recently, Cordell was senior scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, a post to which she was appointed in July 2006.
James Brooks, a CU graduate and now president of SAR, said Thursday that Cordell leaves behind a "large and loving family" at the New Mexico facility.
"She was the pre-eminent living Southwest archaeologist, and more important to us, she was a model of generosity and collegiality," Brooks said.
"She gave so much to every scholar who came through. She was available to offer mentorship, and she was just a model of generosity in the academic world, which is not necessarily known for generosity. She modeled it for all of us, and we tried to live up to that ideal, and probably all failed, compared to her... . We are devastated by her loss."
Patrick Kociolek, current director of the CU Museum of Natural History, succeeded Cordell in that role and also supervised Cordell in her previous position at the California Academy of Sciences.
"She was an extreme professional," said Kociolek, who is also a professor in CU's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "She was really into her discipline. She lived and breathed archaeology. ... She pursued it with such a passion that she had, that she was extremely good at what she did."
Kociolek credits Cordell with raising the bar for the CU museum's research activities, and also bringing a new level of rigor to the university's master's program in museum and field studies.
Beyond citing her academic accomplishments, her many awards and honors -- including her election to 2005 membership in the National Academy of Sciences -- Kociolek also emphasized another point, saying, "She was actually a very wonderful person."
Cordell's primary area of research was the U.S. Southwest, with an emphasis on 14th- and 15th-century northern and central Rio Grande Valley Ancestral Pueblo cultures.
She was widely published, and Brooks called her textbook "Archaeology of the Southwest," recently going into its third edition, the classic work on the subject.
Born Oct. 11, 1943, Cordell earned her bachelor's degree at George Washington University, her master's degree at the University of Oregon and her Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Cordell taught at the University of New Mexico from 1971 to 1987, serving a term there as chair of the Department of Anthropology. That was followed by four years at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
Cordell was married once, had no children, and Brooks said she is survived by two relatives.
Contributions in Cordell's memory can be made to the Friends of Tijeras Pueblo, 11776 Highway 337, Tijeras, N.M., 87059.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Charlie Brennan at 303-473-1327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.