Professor Emeritus Ed Myles, who taught geography for more than 30 years, passed away May 4. He was 87.
Born June 21, 1933, in Reno, he grew up in Austin, Nevada, and enrolled in ROTC at Arizona State University. He served as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force, flying helicopters stationed in Eniwetok before attending graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, where he met his wife, Cindy. He completed his PhD from Michigan State University.
In 1972, he was hired to teach in the Geography and Planning Department at Chico State, where he would share his love for the South Pacific, Australia, and maps with his students for decades. Once, he took his students on a four-day, 900-mile trip for a field studies course called “A California Crossing—Reno to Mendocino,” that took them by train and bus through the Feather River canyon, over Donner Summit, and into the redwood forests. Myles hoped the experience would foster their greater interest in geography in them, as well as a shared love for the region’s diverse landscapes.
He was known for his dedication to students and his field, as well as his high standards, said retired faculty member Steve Herman (Geography, Spanish, ’79; Credential, ’80), who met him in the late 1970s when Myles was his professor in “Environmental Issues.” He was always happy to lend a hand or offer good counsel—traits that remained true through retirement.
“I remember visiting him during office hours. I was amazing to learn that Dr. Myles was from tiny, isolated Austin, Nevada, population 200,” he said. “He had come a long way, to be sure.”
Once they became colleagues, Herman and Myles were founding members of the Northern California Geographical Alliance, along with Jerry Williams and Susan Hardwick. Williams, a longtime friend and colleague also now retired, said Myles was prolific with good teaching ideas. He fondly remembers that he once had a vision to paint maps of the world on school playgrounds, which became very popular as schools all over Northern California embraced the hands-on geography concept.
“For 12 years Ed, Bruce Bechtol, and I worked closely together on the programs for classroom teachers that National Geographic sponsored. We traveled around Northern California organizing workshops and providing summer geography workshops,” said Williams. “His field trips were the highlight of every summer institute for teachers. He was enthusiastic about teaching geography and particularly devoted to working with classroom teachers and students working to become classroom teachers.”
He remained active with the department in retirement, staying involved with the Gamma Theta Upsilon Geography Honors Society and attendance at graduation celebrations and other events. One of his lasting legacies is the map quizzes he created, many of which are still in use today, said Department Chair LaDona Knigge.
As his daughter, Jarrah Myles, explains, he was a supporter of the arts and his children’s interests, loved a good atlas and always took the scenic route. He was also a true handyman, and was known for his warm smile and sweet tooth.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Cathy, son Karri, daughter Jarrah, granddaughter Ashlynn, brothers Ken and Vale, and his cousins and numerous nieces and nephews.
A service will be held June 21 at 10 a.m. at the Chico Cemetery. His family has established a memorial fund in his name at Inspire School of the Arts and Sciences.