Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Banded Sea Star About the Sanctuary

Jim Henry

Vernon James "Jim" Henry
1932 - 2010

Jim Henry

Jim Henry
(Photo: Leslie Henry)

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and the marine science community lost a great friend, colleague and advisor with the passing of Dr. Vernon J. (''Jim") Henry. Henry was a marine geologist and expert advisor on environmental issues with an abiding interest in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

Jim Henry was an important, early investigator of the geologic framework that creates Gray's Reef. In 1974, he guided a graduate student, Jesse Hunt, to conduct the first geological studies of the reef, which helped to pave the way for national marine sanctuary designation in 1981. In the early 1980s, Henry conducted reconnaissance seafloor mapping of the Sanctuary, studies that were published in 1982 (with Scott B. Van Sant) and in 1985. In 1990, Jim produced a geologic history of Gray's Reef with fellow geologist Dr. J. L. Harding. These early investigations and reports created a critical foundation for the understanding and protection of the Sanctuary. In 1996, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recognized Jim Henry with an "Environmental Hero" award for his work on Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. In 1999, Gray's Reef established an advisory council of stakeholders to advise the staff on Sanctuary management. Jim served as the council's inaugural chairman from 1999-2002.

In addition to Henry's important work on Gray's Reef, his long and distinguished career included teaching, research and administrative roles within the University System of Georgia: Director of the University of Georgia (UGA) Marine Institute on Sapelo Island (1961-1971); coordinator of the UGA marine geology program on Skidaway Island (1971-1982); Chairman and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geology at Georgia State University (1982-1992); and part-time Professor of Geology and Director of the Georgia Southern University Applied Coastal Research Lab (ACRL) on Skidaway Island (1992-2003).

Jim Henry was one of the most respected geologists in Georgia and as such was frequently called upon to guide environmental policy in the State. His leadership of the Georgia Coastal Advisory Council was critical in the 1992 formation of the Georgia Coastal Zone Management Program. After his retirement from the University System of Georgia in 2003 and up until his death, Dr. Henry kept an office at the ACRL, staying active in barrier island research and the environmental community.


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