Georgia Lee passed away in her home on July 9, 2016 after a brief illness. By her side was her granddaughter Rachel Lee and Cynthia Morin, daughter of Georgia’s lifelong partner, Frank. Georgia was loved and respected by many people. She inspired us with her sense of humor, intellect, work ethic and knowledge. Georgia will be deeply missed by her family, friends and colleagues.
Georgia was born in Alameda, CA in 1926, and lived in Orinda for most of her childhood. She married Charles Fleshman in 1947, and they had 3 children: Stephen, Wendy and Stacey.
Georgia received her Associate of Arts degree from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, in 1945. In 1948, she graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland with a Bachelor’s degree in Art and a teaching credential.
Later in life, at age 45, Georgia decided to go back to school, proving that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. In 1978 she received her MA in Art History from U.C. Santa Barbara. In 1986 she received her Ph.D. in Archaeology from University of California, Los Angeles, with her thesis on the rock art of Easter Island. When asked what she would do with a Ph.D. in Archaeology, she replied’ “there’s always room at the top”!
Georgia’s Ph.D. was based on six years of fieldwork on Easter Island and culminated in the publication of her classic book, The Rock Art of Easter Island: Symbols of Power, Prayers to the Gods, which presents the first island-wide comprehensive documentation of thousands petroglyphs and rock paintings found on the island. Georgia began her fieldwork on Easter Island in 1981, entering into close relationships with the islanders, both men and women. In her 2006 book, Rapa Nui, Island of Memory, she describes her relationships with the Rapanui people, weaving strands of communal tales together. She also wrote the first guidebook to the island, An Uncommon Guide to Easter Island, in 1981, a time when tourists were not common. Much of Georgia’s work on Easter Island and in Hawaii was implemented by University Research Expeditions through the University of California, Berkeley. Always an artist, Georgia sketched and painted the many places she visited and worked at during her lifetime.
In addition to her work on Easter Island, Georgia undertook extensive archaeological work in Hawaii, leading several projects to document the rock art of the Hawaiian Islands. Her seminal book, Spirit of Place, Petroglyphs of Hawaii, has been reprinted several times and continues to be a popular book in Hawaii to this day.
Georgia’s extensive research in California included study and documentation of Chumash and other rock art sites in Central California. She wrote the children’s book, A Day with a Chumash, as well as the classic publications The Portable Cosmos: Effigies, Ornaments, and Incised Stones from the Chumash Area and The Chumash Cosmos.
Georgia was a founding member of the Easter Island Foundation, established in 1981, whose mission was to build a research library on Easter Island in addition to promoting awareness of the island’s fragile cultural heritage. Under her guidance, the Foundation has supported the creation of the William Mulloy Library at the Museo Antropológico P. Sebastián Englert Museum, established scholarship program for university students of Easter Island ancestry, provided grants for research projects on Easter Island and sponsored International symposia about Easter Island and Polynesia. She initiated the Easter Island Foundation’s publishing program and was the founding editor of the Rapa Nui Journal, which began publication in 1989.
In 1985 Georgia met Frank Morin. Frank, a retired physicist, would become her lifelong partner and collaborator. He accompanied Georgia on field excursions throughout many parts of Polynesia and California, surveying and mapping the sites she documented. They also worked together as a team on many of the Easter Island Foundation’s book publications and the Rapa Nui Journal; Georgia as the writer and editor and Frank as the designer and set up person. They were rarely apart, and had many wonderful adventures during their time and travels together. Frank passed away in 2012 and left a huge void in Georgia’s life.
Georgia was featured in Skye Bergman’s 2015 documentary, Lives Well Lived, which tells the life stories and philosophies of 40 elders and captures their ideals and ideas. When asked by Skye to define a life well lived, Georgia replied, “I think doing something you love, contributing to something. I’ve always felt you need to sit loosely in the saddle of life as you go down that long trail.”
Georgia inspired many people who she met along the path of her life, several who went on to become archaeologists themselves. She made an impression on everyone she met. She was always ready to help and share information with anyone who contacted her with a request. She had friends all over the world and many that she knew via email, which was her preferred daily method of communication.
Georgia’s collection of modern replicas of ancient Rapanui wooden carvings was donated to the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington; her extensive Easter Island slide collection is housed at the Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley and at the Museo Antropológico P. Sebastián Englert on Easter Island, and her Chumash materials have been donated to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where she was a Research Associate for many years.
Frances J. Morin
10 October 1917 – 22 July 2012
Frank Morin, a key member of the Easter Island Foundation since its inception in 1989, served as co-editor of Rapa Nui Journal as well as the EIF treasurer for many years. He was a frequent collaborator with his longtime companion, Dr. Georgia Lee, in petroglyph surveys and research on Hawai’i, Easter Island, and California. Frank died peacefully at home on July 22, 2012. He was 94, still with the verve and enthusiasm of a much younger man.
Born Francis Joseph Morin into a musical family in New England, he went on to study physics and chemistry, first at the University of New Hampshire, and then in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. With the coming of WWII, he was plucked out of graduate school and recruited to work on advanced projects at the famous Bell Labs, at that time located in New York. There he collaborated with a number of eminent physicists, most notably Philip Anderson, winner of the Nobel prize in 1977. (From what I have been able to learn, Frank almost won one himself. Anderson called him “a superb experimentalist”.) Indeed, he was very much involved with the early development of transistors, thermistors and integrated circuits. He holds three U.S. patents for metal oxide semiconductor procedures that he developed in the late 1940s.
Frank continued at Bell Labs after the war but, with the rapid development of the U.S. space program, he moved west in 1962 having been asked by the North American Aviation’s Science Division to set up a lab there and, subsequently, to become its Director. There he was active in NASA’s Apollo Moon Program and a member of North American’s Rocketdyne Division, later Rockwell International. Frank retired in 1980 and moved north to the seaside village of Los Osos, California. A couple of years later his son Michael took him to hear a talk given by Georgia Lee on her work on Easter Island. They met and soon thereafter took up life together.
It was thanks to Halley’s Comet that I first met Frank and Georgia; I was on Easter Island photographing the famous comet for NASA, and they arrived aboard a cruise ship where they had been giving lectures about the island and the comet. We hit it off like gangbusters from the beginning, the three of us plus my late beloved wife, Matty.
Among our happiest of times was when the four of us rented various houses, two weeks at a time, first on Kauai, then at Côte de Beaune in the Burgundy Region in France where we spotted a billboard advertising Morin et fils wine — and followed it up with a delicious wine tasting in nearby Nuits-Saint-Georges where we found Frank’s roots. And lastly, we enjoyed Italy’s magical Tuscany. There was, too, a leisurely cruise from Tahiti to Easter Island that we took in 1991 which carried us and some 100 others to dozens of South Pacific isles along the way as documented in Georgia’s book, Te Moana Nui: Exploring Lost Isles of the South Pacific.
I honestly can’t count the number of times Matty and I stayed with them in their lovely home in Los Osos, and their hospitality was infinite. So seemed Frank’s knowledge about so many things. He had the most amazing ability to discuss all manner of subjects, from physics and astronomy (and sci-fi — he was a devout “trekkie”), to wine making and tasting, music, religion (Buddhism especially), and of course Hawai’i and Easter Island. And the good table; Frank was a master chef. And few know that a younger Frank was an accomplished concert pianist and was a featured soloist with the University of Vermont symphony orchestra. He was a serious student of Jungian psychology. Frank, in his gentle fashion, tried to explain to me what it was all about but alas, I was an inattentive student and he got nowhere with me.
For a number of years — until his knees went arthritic — the sand dunes and beaches of Los Osos were one of Frank’s favorite places to be. (The image above of Frank on his favorite beach was taken by Steven Roger Fischer). Frequently, he would take long (7 kilometer) walks along the shoreline, stripped down to as little as possible. Even to his last days he would often do, as Georgia used to say, his imitation of a lizard out in the walled-in back garden of their home, soaking up the California sun.
I last visited Frank with my dear companion Gabriela a little over a year ago, and he was still just as sharp as ever. He explained that his only major problem, the deterioration of his lungs, may have resulted from all the toxic fumes that he had inhaled as a student. (He was a non-smoker.)
Frank is survived by his devoted companion of many years, Georgia Lee; seven loving children, Thomas, Michael, Cynthia, Peter, Andrew, Sarah and Sylvia; and their mother, the former Joanne O’Riordon of Baltimore, MD., and a number of grandchildren.
William Liller, August 2012
This is a brief memoir to celebrate the life of Alan Drake, sometimes known as Alan Davis-Drake, who was instrumental to us in the early days of the Easter Island Foundation. He visited Easter Island only once but it was love-at-first-sight and he never got over it.
Alan volunteered to help out with producing the (then-titled) Rapa Nui Notes, and went on to publish articles about the island, edit submissions, set up issues for publications, and create excellent maps for both the Rapa Nui Journal and for books published by the Foundation. He authored and designed a delightful book, Easter Island: The Ceremonial Center of Orongo, which has been mostly overlooked. This is a mistake on the part of book-buyers because it is a marvelous little book on the site. It is identified as being published by “Cloud Mountain Press”, which was Alan’s “baby”. The credits page lists the book as being designed by “Bootswell Stevenson McKenna” – which was Alan’s alter-ego, of course. And he created the Rapanui Dingbat Font that we use today–whenever we need a dingbat.
Alan also was editor of ARCHAE, described as “a paleo-review of the literary arts exploring mythical and kitchen sink parallels between archaic and modern life.” Alan described himself as having “… appeared internationally both as poet and performance poet. His most recent collection of poems is Te Moana, an orchestrated choral accompaniment for ballet based on a voyage across the Pacific.”
Alan came along on one of our working field trips to Lana’i, Hawai’i, in the 1980s. He was the Star. We do not remember ever laughing so hard; having Alan around was like having a troop of monkeys on speed. We still talk and laugh about that trip. And Alan.
More recently, he came to the rescue of the EIF. When our website was lost at the beginning of 2010, we contacted him in the hope that he might have some material from the earlier days when he created our original website. It was a longshot, after all these years. Alan not only helped us get our website up and running in record time, but empowered and inspired us to keep it going. We will always remember him with kindness in our hearts.
Alan Drake has left us, but we will miss him and his great smile, and his off-beat ways.
We wish you smooth sailing, Bootswell.