The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Advertisement
The Northgate district right adjacent to the Texas A&M campus houses a street of bars and other restaurants.  
Programs look to combat drunk driving
Alexia Serrata, JOUR 203 contributor • May 10, 2024
Advertisement
The Aggies react after clinching the national championship after Texas A&M’s win against Georgia at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship Game in Greenwood Tennis Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 19, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Aggies ace it, Bulldogs face it
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 20, 2024

The No. 13 Texas A&M women's tennis team took on No. 7 Georgia and served up a score of 4-1 to clinch its newest title: NCAA Champions.  The...

Advertisement
Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
Advertisement
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Archaeologist’s legacy lives on after his death

 
 

Robson Bonnichsen was destined to be an archaeologist. At seven years old, he boasted one of the largest arrowhead collections in his hometown of Filer, Idaho, and in his high school annual, his friends predicted that he would one day become a famous archaeologist.
When Bonnichsen died in his sleep on Dec. 25, he was serving as the director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M and was world renowned for his research after spending 44 years in the field of archaeology.
“When Rob got into that business when he was a kid, archaeology was a disorganized neo science,” said Bill Bonnichsen, Robson’s brother. “Rob’s work had a lot to do with making archaeology a much more rigorous and well respected science.”
At his death at 64, Bonnichsen was considered an authority in the study of the first people to inhabit North America. He founded the original Center for the Study of the First Americans in Maine, which was moved to A&M in 2002.
Mike Waters, a geography and anthropology professor at A&M and acting director of the center, said Bonnichsen’s research was his life.
“You can’t get anymore passionate than Rob about the field of archaeology,” Waters said. “He loved archaeology, and his passion was such that he wanted to share it with the public.”
David Carlson, associate professor and head of the anthropology department, said Bonnichsen remained passionate about his controversial research about the first Americans despite the criticism he received.
“He retained his focus,” Carlson said. “He maintained his work in that area, even though it would have been professionally easier to work on something else. He didn’t give up. He continued to fight for what he believed in.”
Bonnichsen’s wife, Peggy Hays, said he knew what he wanted to do with his life since his early teen years and he never wavered.
“When I was dating him in high school, I couldn’t understand why someone was so passionate about digging in the dirt,” Hays said.
Hays said that Bonnichsen was a man of honesty and integrity who had a special place in his heart for his students. She said that Bonnichsen told her that A&M was the best place he’d ever worked.
Charlotte Penvy, a doctoral candidate in archaeology and one of Bonnichsen’s students, said he was a great professor who always made time for students. Penvy said he had a great sense of humor, a ready smile and was very approachable.
“One of Dr. Bonnichsen’s talents was that he was very good at seeing the overall picture,” Penvy said. “As a grad student caught up in the minutiae and detail of what I do, it was good to talk to talk to him. He would remind you, ‘Hey this is the bigger picture.'”
Jim Wiederhold, a use-wear analyst for the Center, worked with Bonnichsen on a daily basis. Wiederhold said on a professional level, Bonnichsen was likable and friendly and one of the most forward-thinking archaeologists he has met. On a personal level, he considered Bonnichsen a mentor, friend and a father figure.
“This man is leaving a huge hole in a lot of people’s lives, and he’s leaving a huge hole in the field,” Wiederhold said. “It’s going to take someone with big boots to fill his spot, and I don’t think that will ever happen.”
Waters said that although Bonnichsen is gone, his memory as a dreamer and inspiration in archaeology will live on.
“Rob always said, ‘Life is about dreams,'” Waters said. “His dream was creating this center and investigating people indigenous to America and he transformed his dream into reality.”
Donations can be made to the Bonnichsen Memorial Fund, which will fund the Center’s research efforts.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *