The LSU community mourns the loss of Emeritus Professor and Founder of the LSU-Earth Scan Laboratory in the Coastal Studies Institute Oscar K. Huh. He passed away peacefully on Dec. 31, 2013, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was born in Hackensack, N.J. on Nov. 29, 1935. He attended Rutgers University, where he studied geology. During his time at Rutgers, Huh originated the school mascot by winning a school-wide essay contest and was the first “Scarlet Knight,” which is still the Rutger’s mascot. He received master’s and doctorate degrees from Penn State University, where he met and married Wanda P. Kuhn. His graduate research focused on the Mississippian rocks of east-central Idaho. He never tired of telling stories about adventures that he and his horse “Colonel” had during this phase of his life. Subsequently, a peak in the mountain range where he worked was officially named “Huh’s Horn.”
Between his master’s and doctorate degrees, Huh spent three years in the U.S. Navy as a commissioned officer aboard the minesweeper USS Fidelity that served in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. After graduation with a PhD in geology, Huh and Wanda moved to Washington D.C. where he took a job with the Naval Oceanographic Office. He participated in the “Man in the Sea” program after attending U.S. Navy Underwater School. He also worked with the DMSP satellite program. In1969, his daughter, Melanie Ramona, was born.
In 1976, Huh and Wanda moved to Baton Rouge where Oscar became an Associate Professor in the Coastal Studies Institute. Oscar led field studies in ocean-atmosphere processes, performed desert heat studies, co-taught geology field camp in Colorado, and was involved in numerous other activities before founding the LSU Earth Scan Laboratory, or ESL, in 1988. This facility was the first satellite receiving station in the Gulf coast region and Oscar was a pioneer in the fields of satellite meteorology and oceanography. He took great pride in the ESL and spent many hours teaching its significance and applications to staff and undergraduate student workers as well as visitors from around the world.
Huh may be best remembered for his work in the realm of hurricane tracking. He initiated a close collaboration with the Office of Emergency Preparedness (now GOHSEP) and the ESL provided much-needed information on the location and intensity of Gulf hurricanes due to its capability to receive and process GOES geostationary satellite data within a few minutes of reception. In the 1990s, this capability was still a novelty. Throughout its 25 years of operation, the ESL has supported coastal and ocean research and has helped to attract many millions of dollars to LSU. The ESL is a great legacy to Huh, an outstanding teacher, researcher and friend to many in the LSU community.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Hospice of Greater Baton Rouge, 9063 Siegen Lane, Suite A, or in memory of Oscar and his daughter Melanie Huh Smailus to the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, 10504 N. Oak Hills Pkwy., Baton Rouge or Shwachman-Diamond.Org. A memorial service will be held at The First United Methodist Church, 930 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, Saturday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m., with visitation starting at 10 a.m. A reception will follow the service.