On May 9, Richard L. Funkhouser was the recipient of a 2013 Purdue University President’s Council Pinnacle Award. The award was given in recognition of a gift to the Purdue University Libraries of a million dollars or more. The gift consisted of farmland purchased by his great-great grandfather William Whistler in 1853 and was owned by five generations of the Whistler-Funkhouser family.
Funkhouser retired from Purdue University Libraries in August 2001, after serving for over 44 years. He grew up on the family farm and attended Delphi Community Schools. He began his Purdue career as an assistant in the Reference Unit of the General Library on June 11, 1957, the day after he received his graduate degree from Indiana University. In 1958, he became the Engineering Librarian and later took on responsibilities for the Mathematical Sciences and Aviation Technology Libraries. He was the Science Librarian from 1975 until his retirement. He also served as the Coordinator of Physical Sciences and Engineering Libraries for several years. He held a two-year appointment as Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Kanpur, India where he advised on the development of the new university’s library, especially in collection development and the architectural design of its new library building. Upon retirement, the University granted Funkhouser professor emeritus status in recognition of his distinguished career.
In June 2002, Funkhouser was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Special Libraries Association (SLA). He served on the SLA Board of Directors, as treasurer and chair of the Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics (PAM) Division, and as chair of the Science-Technology Division. In addition, he was a member and chair of several national committees and was treasurer, vice-president, and president of the Indiana Chapter.
During his career he received the John H. Moriarty Award from Purdue Libraries, the John H. Moriarty Award from the Indiana Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, and the Achievement Award from the PAM Division of SLA. He was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by the Governor of Indiana in 2001.
Funkhouser continues to be a guest at many of the Libraries events and activities and is a great resource for stories about the Libraries’ history. Now in his eightieth year, he continues to travel, having gone to China last year and to China and Canada this year. He does research on his family’s history and recently wrote a book on a cousin who died on the ill-fated, 1881-1884 “Greely Expedition” to the Arctic. He is now working on a book on this cousin’s brother who was the world champion Greco-Roman wrestler in the 1880s.