Francis D. Hole

Francis D Hole, wearing an Antigo silt loam shirt. photo by Michael Kienitz

On Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002, Francis D. Hole gently slipped away from us, aged 88 years, leaving the world richer for his passage through it. Emeritus professor of soil science and geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was one of the great American pedologists and one of the greatest teachers of pedologists. His passion for soil led him to be the premier "ambassador of soils" and, with his spirtual, soulful, and artistic nature, certainly the undisputed poet-laureate-of-soils.

We offer the world a few selections from our scrapbook of Francis Hole:

Francis Hole in his own words:

Francis Hole's monograph, Soils of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976), is now available electronically from the UW Libraries.

left to right: Terra Loam, Francis Hole, Bucky Badger, Erosion, and Wm. Good. Photo by Susan Kummer, ca. 1990.Francis Hole taking a bow. ca. 1990. Photo by Susan Kummer

Others about Francis Hole:


I remember taking a hike led by Francis Hole during a "Prairies Jubilee" festival held at Goose Pond Sanctuary in Arlington, Wisconsin. We walked down the road a bit, with Dr. Hole in the lead, playing his fiddle and singing songs extolling the glories and mysteries of Soil. Suddenly he stopped playing, halting the march. He had us take off our shoes and socks and step barefooted out onto the prairie soil. "No talking now," he said. "Just walk quietly through the grasses and contemplate the complex and beautiful, yet unseen, world beneath your feet." He led on, playing a soft tune on his fiddle. I had a feeling that I was in a wonderful church.
--Martha C. Anderson, PhD (Astronomy), Asst. Scientist (Soil Sci.)

We will be pleased to receive and collect written tributes and vignettes of Francis Hole from his colleagues, his students, and his friends, to be added to these webpages. Please send them to

Phillip Barak, Assoc. Professor,
17 Jan 2002; updated 18 Jul 2003, 24 Jun 2005, 4 Nov 2005, 12 May 2010.
for the Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.