Charles Lockwood In Memoriam

From John Lynch, of Stranger Fruit, comes the upsetting news of Charles Lockwood‘s untimely death. He died in a motorcycle accident in London.

For those that don’t know who Charles Lockwood was, he was a paleoanthropologist who investigated the evolution of skull anatomy in hominins. Last year, his book “The Human Story: Where We Come From & How We Evolved,” came out. John Lynch has had the pleasure to do research with him, and has posted several citations where he and Locwood, along with Bill Kimbel published their geometric analysis of temporal bone variation in hominins. Do check them out.

Unfortunately, I never met Charles but have read almost a dozen of his papers. The last paper I remember reading of his was his July 2007 study with Claire Terhune and Bill Kimbel — where they concluded that their comparative sample of 520 extant and fossil hominid temporal bones indicated that H. erectus exhibited more intraspecific variation than other hominids. I was impressed with this paper and have always understood him to be an archetypal, high quality anatomist and field scientist — someone who inspired me. He will be missed.

44 thoughts on “Charles Lockwood In Memoriam

  1. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult and tragic time. From his parents, sisters and all his family

  2. He was an amazing person and scholar. He will truly be missed by many.

  3. One of the most impressive people I have ever known, both personally and professionally. Goodbye, my friend. The world was a far better place with you in it.

  4. Dr. Lockwood was my Master’s thesis advisor in 2005. I owe him an extreme debt of gratitude for his assistance.

    He was an amazing scholar, and I looked up to him for the mathematical rigor, inquisitive mind, and clear perspective he brought to anything he would give his opinion on.

    It was a pleasure to learn from him. My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends left behind.

  5. Charlie was one of my first teachers in this field, and was someone I have always looked up to. Thanks for your help and inspiration Charlie. You’ll be missed.

  6. Charles Lockwood was my secondary supervisor for my (current) Masters thesis at UCL.
    Like many of my fellow students, I will be dedicating my thesis to his memory.
    Most speak of Charles with great praise and love, I wish I had known him better in life.
    My heartfelt condolences for all the family and friends.

  7. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how sad Charlie’s death has made so many people.

    He was a great teacher, scholar, and friend. I am honored that he included me in his research and will miss him greatly.

    My deepest condolences go out to all who grieve for him.

  8. Buddy and I were in grad school together at Stony Brook. (I could never get used to calling him “Charlie” or “Charles” and so he let me continue on with his old nickname.) He was one of the most amazing and special people that I have ever met. I am completely devastated.

    My heart goes out to his family.

  9. Our deepest sympathy to all of Charlies family and friends. Charlie stayed with us in Birchington (UK)when researching at the Powell Cotton Museum and has kept in touch. He e mailed us as recently as Friday and sounded so positive it is hard to believe that he has left us. God bless you Charlie.

  10. Charlie was my supervisor and friend. His passing is devastating and I will miss him greatly. It would be fair to say he was one of the most deeply intelligent people you could ever wish to meet. He excelled as a teacher and researcher, but was also a great person to just spend time with. I will never forget the impact he has had on my life.

    My thoughts are with his family at this tragic time.

  11. Seems like Charlie and I kept just missing each other. He arrived at Stony Brook just as I was leaving, he was about to go back to S. Africa just as I was settling into life in London. But whenever we did meet up, and I managed to get a few words out of him, he always had insightful things to say about the issues he loved. I will remember his generosity and treasure the memory of the time we got to spend together when we invited him to give a seminar in Durham a few years back. A good scholar, a good colleague and a genuinely good guy. I hope that this memoriam gives his family some indication of how many people from all around the world will miss him.

  12. Charlie was a good friend of ours from Phoenix. We did not know him professionally, but can say he was a loved and respected member of ultimate frisbee community. He’ll be sorely missed.

  13. Charlie was my advisor at Arizona State University and co-chair of my M.A. committee after starting his position at UCL. He was an excellent role model and someone to be admired greatly for the dedication and passion that he brought to his research and teaching. He was a kind-hearted, mild-mannered, likable human being who will be so greatly missed. His memory will always be a part of the Institute of Human Origins. I was privileged to have had the opportunity to be advised by Charlie. I only wish I had taken the opportunity to express to him directly the gratitude I feel for the things he did for me in my professional life. I will never take another such opportunity for granted. Thank you, Charlie.

  14. Like Larry and Laura, I knew Charlie from playing Ultimate Frisbee when he was at ASU. On the field, the thing I remember most was how hard he played, how much effort he gave. He would defend guys who were faster, could jump higher, been playing longer, and he always stuck with them. He might not always have gotten the defense, but his man knew he’d have to work to get the disc and to stop Charlie from getting it. Off the field, he was one of the more thoughtful, well reasoned person I have ever known. A mutual friend here in Arizona said “All his communities are smaller and less interesting with his departure.” That is true. He will be missed.

  15. To my dear Duke Blue Devil friend, Charlie. I always loved playing frisbee with you out here in Arizona. I loved talking ACC basketball with you as well. It was many times that I remarked that you made it harder for me to pull against Duke. I will miss you and send my love and thoughts to your family. I’ll wear a Duke Blue ribbon in your memory this week and think of you often. Your Carolina Tar Heel friend, always, Harry.

  16. What a terrible tragedy. Those of us who knew Charlie, including many in South Africa who were greatly anticipating his imminent arrival, will greatly miss him. But my heart goes out to his family – his parents and sisters especially – who have such a long road of sorrow ahead. It is a terrible thing to lose a child and sibling. I am so sorry.

  17. We were looking forward to Charlie Lockwood’s appointment at Wits University where he had been selected to play a leading role in palaeoanthropological research, fieldwork and teaching. The Transvaal Museum in Pretoria was already discussing ways in which the university and the museum could strengthen its ties. We have lost a good friend and respected scientist. Our condolences to the Lockwood family.

    Francis Thackeray
    Director, Transvaal Museum

  18. Charlie´s death is a terrible tragedy to palaeoanthropology as both a discipline and a community. We will all miss him.
    My deepest condolences to all who lost him: his family, friends and collegues.

  19. Devastating! As an ASU Alum, fellow archaeologist, and Ultimate frisbee player, I had the distinct honor to get to know Charlie. We could talk ” DIG BUM ” stuff, sports, and enjoy playing some Ultimate frisbee.
    Charles love for life, and fun will sadly be missed.
    My prayers go out to his family and friends.

  20. What shocking news. I spoke to him not so long ago. Sympathies go out to his family and friends.

  21. It has been some time since I left the Valley of the Sun. It was my good fortune to spend much of my free time there chasing plastic and enjoying the good company of the wonderful group of people that make up the VOTS ultimate community. I was there to study ecology and, coincidentally, my lab was housed in the building adjacent to Charlie’s on ASU’s campus. However, it was ultimate that brought us together and it was through the game that he and I initially became friends.

    Although ultimate provided the introduction, Charlie and I found we had much in common and I leaned on him hard as I made my way through school and life. Often meeting for breakfast, we would discuss everything from our views on national politics, to the overlap between anthropologists studying the morphology of humanoid skeletons and ecologists studying evolution of mammalian behavior, to joys and terrors of falling in love. Indeed no topic was off limits as we sat talking over hashbrowns and coffee.

    Unfortunately, when Charlie moved to England such mornings were no longer possible and we communicated less frequently than I would have liked. Too many time zones and too much distance separated us for frequent phone calls, much less shared pots of coffee. Still, I continued to hold Charlie close in my heart. When the London bombings occurred a couple of years ago, I was immediately on the phone to track him down and my relief at hearing his voice on the other end of the line that morning was palpable. I cannot believe that it will not be possible to do the same today, that his voice has been forever quieted.

    As I write this, I am reminded of one of his stories. He had just returned from New York where he ran the city’s marquee marathon quickly enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. While he was rightly proud of this accomplishment, it was not what he wanted to share. Instead, he talked about how he fed off the crowds that lined the streets to cheer on the runners. He spoke of the irony and pleasure that created by running from one neighborhood into the next. He was amused by the contrast between the quiet clapping of the reserved Hasidic Jewish community that abutted the more raucous Puerto Rican neighborhood. He said it felt as though he was passing through different countries with radically different societal norms, the populations of which had each come out into the streets to urge him on, each in its own way. It was a beautiful image and, as always, his observations were full of appreciation for the diversity of the people he saw and joy at being part of the world community.

    To me, this story is in keeping with Charlie’s open and welcoming nature. His was a big heart. He shared his love and compassion freely and without reservation. He was a good friend and his passing leaves a void that will not easily be filled in the hearts of all who knew him. He is one of the best people I have ever known and I will miss him dearly.

    Goodbye Charlie.

  22. Buddy and I grew up together in Charlotte. I always admired him for taking the road less traveled.

    I still remember our freshman year of college (I was at UNC and he was at Duke,) we were both pre-med and we got together one night and he told me he was dropping the premed major and going into anthropology. I tried to briefly talk him out of it, but he had his mind made up. By that time, I knew he was the smartest person I had ever met, so he probably knew what he was doing. When he received his Rhodes Scholarship, it was pretty apparent that was the case.

    We would connect every year or two, as his travels took him around the world and he was very into his work. Though, every time we would get together, it was like old times.

    I kept up with his career over the internet, as I knew he was destined for greatness. I would scour every article I saw pertaining to archeology and anthropology to see if he was involved. I read a couple of the scientific papers he had published that were available online and it was clear that he was one of the great minds in his field.

    My deepest sympathies go out to his family. Buddy was a truly special person and a great friend. The world has lost a brilliant mind.

  23. Charlie was my undergraduate honors thesis advisor at ASU in 2001, and my inspiration for going to grad school in Physical Anthropology. Charlie was always very kind and took my research seriously, just as much when I was an undergrad as when we collaborated on a project during the final year of my Ph.D. He had a brilliant mind, and taught me so much about statistics and morphology. Charlie’s academic legacy will live on through his students, his academic descendants, who will continue to try and make him proud.

    I will miss him greatly. My deep condolences to Charlie’s family.

  24. It is very difficult to come to terms with such random cruelty. What a senseless and violent silencing of a very distinguished mind. My sincerest condolences to Charlie’s loved ones.

  25. Charlie was a soft-spoken and serous minded colleague, who I worked with on his visits to the School of Anatomy at the University of the Witwatersrand. Over the few dinners and airport runs we shared in South Africa, I was impressed by his strong will, calm nature and clear mind. He would have been an excellent leader for the Institute of Human Evolution. I wish I had known him better and I know that his life was taken too soon.
    Goodbye, Charlie, and go in peace.

  26. Such a tragic loss to all of us.

    Charlie had great talent and insight, which he shared. I value the discussions we had and other times I spent in his company.

    My sympathy to his friends and family.

  27. I first met Charlie when he was touring graduate schools and visited Wash. U. He wa in his last year at Duke. He introduced himself to me as “Buddy”. That, and the scholar I saw bloom over the next few years, endeared me to him more than he will ever know. Charlie was among the mildest, most even-keeled colleagues I’ve ever known. I don’t know you John Roach, but thanks for reflections you’ve shared. I saw that side of Charlie too. He cared about people, diversity; other perspectives were wondrous to him. Madagascar, South Africa, and I guess everywhere else a life in anthropology took him, it wasn’t just about the destination, it was the journey. To share is to hold. And we hold you as you pass from us on your next one. Rest in peace Buddy.

  28. From an NCSSM classmate in Germany:
    Buddy is how we met him in 1986 and that is how we will forever remember the gentle, brilliant, quiet, sweet young man in Durham. As we are currently stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, we had just caught up with Buddy via facebook. We had discussed plans of meeting him in London in August – before his much anticipated move to South Africa. My husband and I both considered Buddy a special friend and were so looking forward to catching up with him and his worldwide adventures at our 20th Reunion October 10-12th, 2008. There will be a reunion page added for Buddy in the reunion book we are organizing. There will also be a moment of silence in remembrance. We can be reached at

    Our sympathies go out to all of Buddy’s family, friends, and colleagues. You are all in our prayers. He is truly missed.

    Hillary (VanderGast) Baggett and Terry Baggett NCSSM class of ’88

  29. Hello there

    I’m terribly terribly sorry for your loss. I didn’t know your son but I did walk past the accident that morning on the other side of the road. I wanted you to know that as I passed, just after all the medics got there, I stopped amidst the rushing passers by to say a prayer to God to protect the motorcyclist and to keep him safe in the hope that he would recover well. I say a prayer now for you and the rest of your family. I will remember all of you at my church in Holborn, London

    He sounds like a wonderfully gifted academic.

    May you eventually find peace and light out of the enveloping darkness.


  30. Charlie, you will be sorely missed — by so many of your friends and colleagues, as well as your family. You rose to the top of the field like a meteor. You had a spectacular mind and a great heart. My most sincere condolences to your family.

    I knew Charlie when he was Buddy, accompanying Elwyn Simons, me and Prithijit Chatrath to Madagascar to search for fossil lemurs. Just a kid, or so he seemed, but what a kid. And then, only a few years later, when Judith Masters and I co-taught a course at Stony Brook (as visiting scholars), Charlie was a graduate student taking that class. One couldn’t ask for a sharper student. Soon it was Charlie who was organizing symposia, inviting his old professors to contribute. Yesterday, when I visited Duke, Elwyn printed a copy of a photo of Charlie measuring a Megaladapis skeleton that we found together in Madagascar. I will put it in my office, to inspire other young scholars… and to remember always one of the best.

  31. Charlie was one of my teachers during my M.Sc at UCL. I happily recall that he chose to conclude the story of early hominin evolution in Africa to the suitably dramatic theme music of Star Wars. Along with the help of some nifty receding power point graphics he hinted at what was to come in Europe. Wonderful!

    Charlie was a patient and kind teacher who on one occassion even took my own delay in grasping an important concept as a consequence of his failure to teach it well enough. This was never the case and Charlie was always the most coherent and thorough of teachers. I’m sure all my course mates and I will fondly remember his comitment to sharing his knowledge. My condolences to his family and friends.

  32. I just heard the devastating news and am still reeling. Charlie was an inspiration professionally, and a really fun guy to hang out with personally. I will miss him on both levels. My heart breaks for his family. It is a tragedy when a parent outlives a child, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I wish I could take all the pain away for you, Lockwood family. The world was a better place thanks to Charlie’s brief time in it, and I feel honored to have known him.

  33. I obviously came to know of this incident via the UCL website as I am starting a postgraduate course there this September in Medical Anthropology. I am not a palaeoanthropologist but it would seem from the tributes that Dr. Lockwood had a deep influence on his students and colleagues. I was reminded on Dr. Lockwood even on my flight out of the UK recently where one of his students was sat next to me. Condolences to his family and friends.

  34. Charlie was always a comfortable person to engage in conversation. I met him while he was at ASU and was he was always on the level with any opinion or discussion. I am very sorry to learn that he has left us.

  35. I met Charlie at ASU when I was a grad student studying non human primates. I remember having conversations with him on human evolution and evolution of primates. It is unbelievable that an erudite person like Charlie had to leave the earth so soon.

  36. I came to know Charlie at UCL a few years ago. We had both been previously at ASU, but had never intersected there. We both worked in Africa. I remember once getting together to go to a Ceilidh dance in Camden, which for us Americans, was more like a barn dance or contra. I swung around the room on Charlie’s arm–we were laughing hysterically. Riding the bus home that night, he was very worried that I didn’t make it safely when I got off in my dodgy neighbourhood in East London. He contacted me the next day to make sure that I was alright.
    Throughout my time at UCL, I would look him up for the final cup of coffee or drink before going out to the field. We last shared a coffee in February, before going to a talk on Namibian conservation.
    In reading all of the postings, I am overwhelmed by the love his friends, family, and colleagues had for him. I say goodbye to Charlie. My thoughts are with him in this far corner of Gabon, Central Africa.

  37. Charlie & I went to see Brian Patten read some of his poetry in London. We were both struck by his poem “So Many Different Lengths of Time”. Here’s just a part of it:

    So, how long does a man live, finally?
    And how much does he live while he lives?
    We fret, and ask so many questions –
    then when it comes to us
    the answer is so simple.

    A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
    for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
    for as long as we ourselves live,
    holding memories in common, a man lives.

    I miss him

  38. I had nothing to do with Charlie or anthropology. I’m an orthopaedic surgeon – but in 2005, I came asking Charlie for some advice on a project I was doing. I was expecting him to give some helping words and point me in the right direction. Instead, he devoted an awful lot of time effort and even lent me expensive equipment to finish my Masters. He had no personal gain in doing this. He’s quite a guy.

  39. Announcement: Special symposium in honour of Charlie Lockwood’s contributions to palaeoanthropology

    The Paleoanthropology Society has kindly agreed to host a special symposium in honour of Charlie Lockwood’s contributions to palaeoanthropology. It will take place at the annual meeting in Chicago at 2:45pm Tuesday, 31 March 2009. There will be an informal gathering for drinks later that night (venue to be announced during the meeting) to continue the celebration of his life and work. The session is organised by friends of Charlie’s at University College London, Arizona State University, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, California Institute of Technology and Stony Brook University. We hope you can join us at this special session!
    Fire Kovarovic, co-organiser

  40. I had nothing to do with Charlie or anthropology. I’m an orthopaedic surgeon – but in 2005, I came asking Charlie for some advice on a project I was doing. I was expecting him to give some helping words and point me in the right direction. Instead, he devoted an awful lot of time effort and even lent me expensive equipment to finish my Masters. He had no personal gain in doing this. He’s quite a guy.

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