Obituary — L.A. Peter Gosling


Lee Anthony Peter (Pete) Gosling died peacefully, from a recurrence of lymphoma, at his home in Ann Arbor on Dec. 13, surrounded by his immediate family.

Pete was born Nov. 14, 1927, in Cleveland, Ohio, to John Gwynne Gosling and Nell Marion Lee. In 1937 they, along with Pete and his late brothers John Roderick Gwynne and David Christopher Lee, moved to a farmstead in White Pigeon, Michigan.

A photo of Pete Gosling
Lee Anthony Peter (Pete) Gosling

Pete attended the Boulevard School in Shaker Heights, Ohio; Sturgis, Michigan, public schools; the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Pass Christian, Mississippi; and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he obtained a B.A. in 1952, an M.A. in 1953, and a Ph.D. in 1958, all in geography, after sailing with the Merchant Marine from 1946-47.

In 1956, he joined U-M’s geography department as an instructor, becoming an assistant professor in 1959, associate professor in 1964, and full professor in 1970. He served two terms as the department’s chair from 1966-69 and 1972-75. He transferred to the Department of Anthropology in 1982 when the geography department was closed, retiring in 1994.

Pete conducted extensive field research in Southeast Asia on rural development, water transportation and population resettlement, chiefly in Malaya/Malaysia and Thailand, including a major United Nations-funded project on a proposed Pa Mong dam in Thailand/Laos in the 1970s.

He also undertook research and consultancies for, among others, the U.S. Office of Naval Research and Agency for International Development, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Fund for Population Activities, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the state of Michigan.

Pete was a visitor at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur from 1961-62, Khon Kaen University, Thailand from 1973-75, and Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore from 1980-81.

At U-M he taught undergraduate courses on world, Asian and Pacific regional geography, and graduate courses on population resettlement, Southeast Asian peoples and cultures, and rural development. He also taught courses for the U-M Extension Service, and hosted more than 50 U-M television programs from 1959-65.

At U-M he served on numerous committees to develop Asian studies, as coordinator of the Asian Studies Program, director of what was then the Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, and director of the Southeast Asia Business Program in the subsequent Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

He received a Distinguished Faculty Service Award in 1965. He considered his greatest career achievement to be raising funds for graduate student support and field research, and for institution building in Asian studies at U-M and nationally.

On the national level, Pete served on numerous committees and councils of the Association of American Geographers, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright), the Asia Society, Ford Foundation, among other organizations. He served the Association for Asian Studies on numerous committees and as secretary-treasurer.

In 1949, Pete married Elizabeth (Betty) Montgomery Blair, with whom he had three children: Kelcie Montgomery (Daniel Lindsay and daughter Blair, of Davis, California), Peter Blair Brian (Harlyn, of Ann Arbor) and Elizabeth (Betsy) Leslie of New Orleans. Betty and Pete separated amicably in 1975.

In 1977, Pete met and married Linda Yuen-Ching Lim of Singapore, a professor emerita of corporate strategy and international business, with whom he has a daughter, Mya Lixian of Ann Arbor. In 2022, they established the Gosling-Lim Postdoctoral Fellowship in Southeast Asian Studies at the Association for Asian Studies.

A devoted husband and father, history buff, theater aficionado and traveler extraordinaire, Pete was an accomplished photographer, gardener, cook, painter, philatelist and homemaker, who enjoyed hosting friends and international visitors at the Ann Arbor house he designed, built, decorated and lived in since 1959.

He is remembered by all for his kindness, gentleness, generosity, wit, humor, keen people interest and tales of exciting adventures around the world.

Submitted by the Gosling family


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