This week we pay tribute to longtime friend, trustee, supporter, and champion of the Museum Dr. Scott R. Inkley, who passed away on November 15. Dr. Inkley spent most of his 97 years deeply involved with the Museum. He was introduced to the Museum in seventh grade, when he took an elective natural history course through Hawken School. Taught by a Museum curator, the class sparked in Dr. Inkley a lifelong passion for science and nature. In an interview with the Museum a few years back, Dr. Inkley described this experience fondly, recalling that the course made an impact on him as a 12-year-old because he appreciated being taken seriously by adults. At the end of the course he told the curator that he’d like to pursue this type of work, and the curator replied, “You’ve got yourself a job!” Dr. Inkley began volunteering at the Museum in 1933, skinning skunks and opossums. The next year he received $1 a day for his efforts, and the following year he doubled his salary to $2 a day. He credits this job with introducing him to the collegiality of people interested in science.
The Museum had positive, far-reaching effects on Dr. Inkley’s life. It was here that he met his wife, Josephine Newcomer Inkley (daughter of Frank Newcomer—one of the Museum’s founders), and it was here that their mutual love for science and each other blossomed. In 1951, Dr. Inkley joined the Museum’s Board of Trustees and served on a wide range of Board committees, including Nominating and Governance, Collections and Research, and Oversight. In 2001, he was named a Museum Life Trustee in recognition of his decades of service and leadership (he holds the distinction of being the longest-serving Museum trustee). Most recently, he served as an Honorary Co-Chair of the Museum’s Centennial Campaign. He was excited about the Campaign and believed visitors would benefit from more personal, direct engagement with the Museum’s scientific research. “The idea is to not bury experimental and descriptive material in the basement where it is never seen,” he said of the Museum’s plans to bring specimens out of storage and curators out of their basement labs and integrate them into the visitor experience. “This way the visitor gets energized and enthusiastic and begins to appreciate what is really going on.”
Outside of his work for the Museum, Dr. Inkley had a long, distinguished career as a physician (practicing for 68 years) and eventually became the president and CEO of University Hospitals of Cleveland. He also served two terms as the mayor of Hunting Valley, and acted as chairman and longtime trustee for University Circle Inc.
For those of you interested in inspiring the Scott Inkleys in your life, we have some exciting Museum programs and events coming up. On Saturday, December 1, have fun “Digging for Dinos” as Museum Paleontologists Lee Hall and Amanda McGee show you what real fossil hunters do in the field. (Multiple sessions are available; reserve your spot when you arrive at the Museum.) On Sunday, December 2, from noon to 5 p.m., we will be participating in UCI’s annual Holiday CircleFest and offering free general admission to all visitors. On Friday, December 7, our Explorer Series will feature the lecture “Saving the Salish Sea,” by Dr. Joseph Gaydos, Senior Wildlife Veterinarian and Science Director at the SeaDoc Society, UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center. And on Saturday, December 8, stop by for Scientist Saturday, featuring Jon Cepek, Wildlife Ecologist for the Cleveland Metroparks. Also on December 8, at the Cedar Lee Theater, our popular REEL Science series will return with the Vertebrate Paleontology Department hosting an 11 a.m. screening of the prehistoric adventure “Walking with the Dinosaurs.”
I hope Dr. Inkley’s passion for this great institution may serve as a continuing inspiration to us all.