In Memoriam: Dr. Merlin Bellamy Brinkerhoff

Jul 24 2020

Merlin Bellamy Brinkerhoff (1939 – 2020)


Professor Merlin Bellamy Brinkerhoff died on July 2, 2020, after a battle with dementia. Born in Lovell, Wyoming, he grew up in the Big Horn mountains where he hunted and hiked as a young man. Leaving Wyoming, he served on a mission in Brazil and upon his return, he attended Brigham Young University and graduated with a BA and MA in Sociology. He then moved to Seattle where he enrolled at the University of Washington and earned his Ph.D. in Sociology. He returned to BYU for one year and then accepted a Post-Doctorate position at McAllister College in Minnesota. In l970, Merlin joined the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Calgary. During his tenure at the University of Calgary, he served in the position of Department Head, Assistant Dean of Social Sciences, and Associate Vice President of Research. He also served on the U of C Senate, was actively involved in the Latin American Studies Program and a member of the board of directors for the Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family. Merlin was regarded as an accomplished academic administrator whose style was low-key but extremely effective.

He contributed to many areas of Sociology: religion, bureaucracy, family, methodology, ecology. He was an active participant in the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion over the years and served on several committees. His seminal research on religion and family precipitated research by other sociologists across North America to investigate the linkage. Later, his work on family conflict and inter spousal violence initiated major grants from both SSHRC and provincial funding agencies. His scholarly work was published in major journals such as the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Canadian Journal of Public Health, Journal of Family Issues and the Canadian Journal of Sociology, to name a few. His research in later years focused on the “back to the landers” and ecology in the interior of B.C. In addition to his commitment to research, Merlin was passionate about teaching. He was always there for his students and shared constructive critiques when needed. One of his most important accomplishments was the mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students; many of which now hold academic or professional positions across Canada.

Merlin was sought after as a reviewer for both journals and publishing houses. He was well known to provide authors with detailed critiques as well as concrete suggestions as to how they might improve their scholarly work. Moreover, they could always count on him to provide his review on time. He regularly reviewed papers for journals in a variety of fields such as the American Sociological Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, British Journal of Sociology as well as the American Journal of Sociology.

He spent sabbatical leaves conducting research in Mexico, several countries in South America, and the Philippines. He was instrumental in developing the International Center at the University of Calgary and shaped its creation and subsequent development. As an architect of the International Centre, he traveled to various countries, e.g., Nicaragua, India to further develop and expand the international reach of the University. Merlin also engaged in extensive travel to oversee CIDA funded projects in several countries in Asia and Latin America. He also volunteered for the Organization of American States as an election observer on missions to Suriname, Guyana, St. Lucia and Venezuela.

Merlin’s contribution to the profession was extensive and he made important, enduring contributions to Sociology, post-secondary education and society. He was a Sociologist, academic administrator and an outstanding international ambassador for Canada. For Merlin, Sociology was a social enterprise; one that he generously gave his time and always encouraged those with whom he interacted. His generous and humble nature and wide-ranging curiosity were unique among his peers and he will be missed.    

Read More News