Dr. Lois K. Ongley passed away on November 16, 2013, surrounded by her family. She is survived by her husband William Todd-Brown, daughters Katherine, Margaret, and Jesica Todd-Brown, parents Constance and George Ongley, and siblings Steven Ongley, Lisa Gardner, and Loren Neill.
Lois was born March 25, 1951, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her family moved frequently within the state of New York before living in France for three years in the early 1960s. In 1965, the family settled in Wilton, Connecticut, where Lois attended high school. Lois’s happy experiences in France sparked a love of language: she eventually became fluent in French and Spanish, with a sprinkling of Russian, Portuguese, and Arabic.
Lois graduated from Middlebury College in 1973 with a B.A. in Geology. She became the first woman at Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory to work as a shipboard technician on an oceanographic research vessel; somewhere in the North Atlantic she lost the tip of a finger when a piece of equipment slipped. In 1977, she earned an M.S. in Geology at Texas A & M University, where she met her husband Bill while looking for rock climbing partners.
After graduate school, Lois worked as a petroleum geologist in Norman, Oklahoma, where her first daughter Kathe was born. Always interested in mentoring women scientists, Lois was the founding vice president of the Oklahoma chapter of the Association of Women Geoscientists. The family then moved to Houston, where twin daughters Margaret and Jesica were born. Lois remained in Texas for additional graduate work, earning a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Rice University.
After finishing her Ph.D., she taught at Bates College, where she indulged her love of travel by teaching short geology courses in Saudi Arabia and leading summer research projects in Mexico. She also taught chemistry at Oak Hill High School in Wales, Maine.
At the time of her death, Lois had been teaching Geochemistry at Unity College for seven years. She was a passionate instructor, loved by her students and admired by her peers, and a widely recognized expert on arsenic in groundwater. While working at Unity, Lois traveled to Bangladesh to organize low-cost chemistry education packets on behalf of Chemists Without Borders.
Lois loved her adopted home state of Maine, sleepy cats near wood fire stoves, her friends and family, unusual rocks, and traveling to new places. She will be greatly missed.
Thoughts, memories and condolences for Lois’ family may be left here: https://www.facebook.com/memoryoflois.