Neil Tappen is probably most well known for having worked out the species and distribution of species in Central and western East Africa in the 1950s, as everyone who has worked in the area since then, from Jane Goodall to Richard Wrangham, has used his work as a tool in their own study of apes and monkeys of the region. He also worked on bone growth and development and taphonomy. Many others know him for his teaching and training of students, of which there were many. If you are reading this blog, you probably know or at least know of Genie Scott, for example. Neil was her undergraduate professor.
I know Neil as my ex-father-in-law and as the grandfather of my daughter Julia.
Neil died on August 18th after a couple of weeks struggle with a series of medical issues precipitated by a bad fall, which in turn was precipitated by a series of medical issues, all typical of someone 100 +/- 5 years in age. As far as I know he was about as sharp as always right up to that time, though with failing eyesight it took him much longer to devour his usual giant stack of reading every day.
The most important thing I can tell you about Neil, if you didn’t know him, is this: He understood the idea of living in interesting times, and he paid attention to what was interesting about his own times.
He’ll be buried tomorrow, Friday, at Fort Snelling.