Former Dedman College Dean A. Lee McAlester dies

Noted scientist, author, and academic A. Lee McAlester died on Tuesday, December 27, in Tyler after a long struggle with DLB.

Lee McAlester
A. Lee McAlester

McAlester's 51-year career in the geological sciences spanned two universities (Yale, 1959-1974, and SMU, 1974-2010), produced five textbooks and countless academic papers, and made him the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, NASA grants, and SMU teaching honors.

He also served as SMU's Dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences from 1974-1977, and as chairman of its geology department from 1993-2000.

McAlester received his B.A. and B.B.A. from SMU (1954), and his M.S. (1957) and Ph.D. (1960) from Yale. In addition to his science work, he co-authored four celebrated books about architecture with ex-wife Virginia Savage McAlester, including the now-standard text A Field Guide to American Houses.

He was also a master gardener, lifelong birdwatcher, amateur pilot, and lover of folk, big band, and classical music. Colleagues remember him as an ambitious, expansive thinker and a great judge and nurturer of talent; his family remembers him as a generous and supportive father, husband, and son.

He tirelessly encouraged his children's creative endeavors and was a profound influence on all of them.

A memorial was Tuesday, Jan. 3, in the McCord Auditorium of Dallas Hall at SMU.

McAlester was preceded in death by his beloved mother Alverta and brother Don. He is survived by his wife, Halina McAlester, of Tyler; his children, Martine McAlester of Dallas and Keven McAlester of Los Angeles; his longtime step-children, Carty Talkington of Los Angeles and Amy Talkington and her husband Robert Adams, both of Los Angeles; and two grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Heart to Heart Hospice Foundation, The family also sends its thanks to Prestige Estates and Kristy Redman of Tyler.

# # #