In Memoriam: Keck professor & Pitzer founding faculty member Daniel Guthrie

A middle-aged white man, Professor Dan Guthrie, speaks with a younger white female while she holds a taxidermy bird.
Professor Daniel Guthrie, a founding Pitzer College faculty member, passed away July 1 at the age of 80. (Courtesy Claremont McKenna College)

Daniel Guthrie, a founding Pitzer College faculty member and founding member of what’s now the W. M. Keck Science Department, died July 1, according to the Claremont Courier and a Claremont McKenna College news release. He was 80.

Guthrie earned a master’s degree in biology from Harvard University and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, according to the CMC news release. He moved to Claremont in 1964 when he was hired as a founding member of Pitzer faculty and worked for the science department for 48 years.

During his time at the 5Cs, Guthrie was “instrumental” to science department’s founding, helped plan the current Keck building and also coached women’s lacrosse, according to Pitzer President Melvin Oliver.

Guthrie specialized in comparative anatomy, animal behavior, introductory biology and environmental science, according to the news release. He was an active member of the Pomona Valley Audubon Society for 40 years, where he served in many capacities, including president, fundraiser, program developer and newsletter producer. 

Guthrie was a devoted bird watcher and environmentalist, according to the news release. He collected an extensive comparative collection of U.S. bird skeletons for use by museums and teachers. 

“Some people are born with a passion, and they know what they are going to do. He was that guy. It was birds the whole time,” his daughter Ruth Guthrie CM ’83 told the Courier. He always needed to be outside.”

Guthrie authored more than 70 papers and studies in biology, according to the news release. He was also a fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was active in the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

Oliver expressed “sadness … yet also joy for this naturalist-birder-scholar who lived his passion for nature and shared it with generations of Pitzer students,” in an email to students July 23. 

No memorial service will be held, though Guthrie’s family urged students to honor his memory by spending time in nature, Oliver said. 

Guthrie is survived by his three daughters, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, according to the news release.

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