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Volume 5, Number 4
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L. Eugene Cronin
Scholar and Gentleman
Gene Cronin teaching and pointing to a site on a map of the Bay

Gene Cronin, 1917-1998

By Jack Greer

Co-editing the new blue crab book with Victor S. Kennedy is L. Eugene Cronin, or simply Gene to those who knew him. A native Marylander, Gene Cronin played a pivotal role in the advancement of marine science in both Maryland and Delaware. He began his career in 1943 as a biologist at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL), at that time a state lab. In 1950 he moved to the University of Delaware to establish the marine laboratory at Lewes, which later became the College of Marine Studies.

When Cronin returned to CBL in 1955, he became its director, following Reginald V. Truitt, who founded the lab in 1925. In this role Cronin oversaw CBL's affiliation with the University of Maryland in 1961 and served as the first head of the Natural Resources Institute, the forerunner of the UM Center for Environmental Science.

Cronin later served as the head of the Chesapeake Research Consortium, and even after retirement he remained active in Bay science and policy. His influence helped to shape the Chesapeake Bay Program and the course of Bay fisheries policy. In 1994 he won the prestigious Mathias Medal in recognition of lifelong scientific contributions to Bay management. His special interest throughout his career was the blue crab.

During the late 1990s, Cronin and Vic Kennedy came together in common purpose to undertake a capstone effort, the compilation of the first-ever reference text on the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. With characteristic energy and focus, Cronin helped to pull together an advisory group of researchers, including Charles Epifanio, Anson "Tuck" Hines, Romuald Lipcius, and the late Austin Williams. Cronin also launched a personal campaign to raise funds for the book's publication. He succeeded in securing generous support from the Fairplay Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Chesapeake Bay Office, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, I.T. Todd, and Edmond Stanley, as well as from the Maryland Sea Grant College and others.

Cronin did not live to see the blue crab book take its present shape. In December 1998 he passed away at the age of eighty-one, in his hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. His presence permeates the book, however, and it will stand as a lasting reminder of his commitment to the advancement of our knowledge about the blue crab.

The book is dedicated to the memory of L. Eugene Cronin.

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