Frank Cross passed away Thursday, July 19, 2001, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He was born Sept. 17, 1925, in Kansas City, Mo., the son of Frank and Fearn (Hamilton) Cross. He served during World War II. He moved to Lawrence in 1951 where he was a professor of systematics and ecology at the University of Kansas from 1951 until retiring in 1991. He was also curator of ichthyology for the Natural History Museum.
He married Marie Zepplin on Nov. 24, 1954, in Lawrence. She survives of the home. Other survivors include a son, Frank, Austin, Tex.; two daughters, Betty Sue Cross, Maryland Heights, Mo., and Julie Cross Hoko, Madison, Conn.; a brother, Hays, Clinton, Okla.; a sister, Margaret Cross, Stillwater, Okla.; and one grandchild.
Cross literally wrote the book on Kansas fish. His first textbook, "The Handbook of Fishes in Kansas," was published in 1967. He later co-wrote a text called "Fishes in Kansas" with Joseph Collins in 1975 and revised it in 1995. "Almost everybody in the state of Kansas who got a degree in biology learned about fishes from Frank or his writings," Collins said. Students who got to work with Cross in person were at an advantage, he added. People were drawn to his gentle demeanor and excellent sense of humor, said Ed Wiley, curator at the Natural History Museum. "He was a realist in terms of his outlook on life and the way he approached life," Wiley said. "I liked him immensely. He was the sort of person who, when he gave his opinion, people listened to it."
Frank Cross handled fish much as he handled people — with extreme interest and care. The former Kansas University biology professor spent a lifetime traversing the state to study fish, and he inspired many people along the way. - Stephanie Paterik