Long-time ANS member and past president of the American Name Society Donald J. Orth died peacefully at his home in Falls Church, Virginia on October 30, 2019 at the age of 94. Donald presented papers at numerous ANS meetings over the years. He served as the executive Secretary of the U. S. Board on Geographic Names, and among his many publications on toponymy was the highly regarded Dictionary of Alaska Place Names. Don was a significant contributor to the work of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographic Names.
A native of Wisconsin, Don joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He studied anthropology, cartography, and geography at the University of Wisconsin, knowledge essential for his 39-year career with the U. S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado. There he was involved with topographic surveying programs in the Western United States. He was also behind the creation of the automated Geographic Names Information System, the first of its kind in the world. Orth received the U.S. Department of Interior’s Medal and Meritorious Service Award for substantial contributions to cartography through his work in toponymy.
Don taught courses in Geography at George Washington University and Catholic University in Washington D.C. He was a member of the International Congress of Onomastic Sciences. Don engaged in many active hobbies, including mountain-climbing and historic preservation. Don is survived by his wife, Martha B. Orth, five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 17 great-great grandchildren.