October 24, 1918–March 30, 2001
BY JOHN S.ADAMS AND VERNON W.RUTTAN
JOHN BORCHERT WAS A practical scholar of exceptional intellect and charismatic personality who made original and important contributions to physical geography, especially climatology, regional economic analysis of the United States, U.S. metropolitan evolution, urban and regional planning, geographic information science, and geographic education. A Regents’ Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, he inspired three generations of students at all levels to get out of their armchairs and into the field, to explore and get to know the territory, to ask questions, produce effective map series, generalize from them to infer and advance original interpretations of what is happening on the land, and to participate in public policy debate and planning activity in local, regional, national, and global arenas.
John was born in Chicago, the son of Ernest J.Borchert and Maude (Gorndt) Borchert, and grew up in Crown Point, Indiana. As a boy in the 1920s and 1930s he lived on the edge of one of the steepest physical and cultural geographical gradients in the world at that time. On one side of the gradient stood his hometown, a typical quiet Corn Belt county