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“Dear Sylvia, My condolences to you and your family for the passing of your brother John.I remember his kindness,wit and intelligence.I shared most...Read More »
1 of 4 | Posted by: Mary Wilkerson Long - VA

“So sorry to hear about John's passing. As a high school student, he radiated gentle humor, kindness and a strong sense of ethics. My condolences to...Read More »
2 of 4 | Posted by: Nancy Jordan Passaro - Shelton, CT

“I was so saddened to learn about John yesterday. My mind has been flooded with memories of our friendship at Ferguson High School. That was long,...Read More »
3 of 4 | Posted by: Jane Ayers Horn - Charleston, SC

“Dear Susan and John, So sorry to hear about the passing of your Dad. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time...Read More »
4 of 4 | Posted by: Keri Allaun Simmons - Manteo, NC


John Edward Olney
Gloucester: Dr John Edward Olney, Professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, passed away January 11, 2010 at his home in Gloucester, Virginia after a year-long battle with cancer. It was a brutal and bravely fought battle, and through it all he never lost the gentleness, generosity, sense of humor and love of fishes (and passion for teaching students about them) that, among so many special qualities, made him uniquely wonderful and unforgettable. He was 62.
Professor Olney was first employed at VIMS in 1972 and joined the faculty in 1979. During his 36-year career, he specialized in zooplankton ecology, fisheries science, and the early life history and evolution of fishes. He was widely known as an expert in the identification of young stages of fishes and published and taught extensively in this field. During the course of his career, he published 75 papers in technical journals, including numerous book chapters.
He headed the VIMS Anadromous Fishes research program and was a well-known expert on the biology and conservation of American shad. Along with his students and collaborators, he published 25 papers on American shad and was principal advisor to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on decisions related to shad management in Virginia. Early in the discussions about the Mattaponi River-King William Reservoir, he warned of the potential impacts of the project to shad reproduction.
Professor Olney was a respected teacher and advisor, serving as major professor to 22 graduate students and offering his knowledge and expertise to many students at VIMS and other institutions. His service to college governance was extensive and included appointments to the Academic Affairs, Planning and Resources, and Executive Committees of the William & Mary Faculty Assembly. Within the School of Marine Science, he served as Chair of both the Academic Council and Educational Policy Committee, and was a member of the Academic Status and Degrees, Library Advisory, and Admissions Committees. He served as Chair of the Department of Fisheries Science from 2006 to 2009.
Friends, family and colleagues valued his culinary talents. For many years, he cooked for VIMS students at their fall fundraiser, as well as for the faculty at their annual seafood fest. Springs brought promise of morel mushroom hunting in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with good friends at his side, a ritual that he practiced for over two decades.
He is survived by his wife Lee Larkin, son John E. Olney Jr., daughter Susan O. Napiecek, brother Willard W. Olney, two sisters, Sylvia Kelley and Amelia Hellman, and one grandchild, Andrew Blatnik.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Foundation (VIMS Foundation) for the benefit of the John Edward Olney Endowment, a fund dedicated to furthering the education of young marine biologists, c/o VIMS, P.O. Box 1346, Rte. 1208 Greate Road, Gloucester Point, VA 23062.
A graveside service will be held at the Peninsula Memorial Park at 12:00 pm on Saturday, January 16, 2010. On Friday, January 15, 2010, the family will receive friends at the home of Lee Larkin from 3:00 pm to 6:00pm. A celebration of John’s life will be scheduled in the spring of 2010 at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Arrangements by Hogg Funeral Home and Crematory, Gloucester Point.