Norris Cecil Hundley Jr. of Santa Barbara passed away peacefully on April 28, 2013. He was born Oct. 26, 1935, to Norris and Helen Hundley in Houston, Texas, and was the oldest of seven children.
His surviving siblings are Juanita Walters, Helen Daugherty, Betty Howell, John Hundley, Patty Talbott and Dr. Charles Hundley.
In 1954, Norris met Carol Marie Beckquist at San Gabriel Mission High. They fell in love and were married on June 8, 1957.
Norris graduated from Whittier College in 1958. After receiving his Ph.D. in history in 1963 from UCLA, he taught at the University of Houston for a year before returning to UCLA in 1964. He was a professor of American history at UCLA from 1964 to 1994. Professor Hundley was a renowned scholar of water rights in the West.
As editor of the Pacific Historical Review for almost 30 years (1968-1997), Professor Hundley was instrumental in shaping the field of the American West as well as the Pacific Rim through his introduction of new scholars and fields to this leading journal. Further, during his time as editor of the journal, he took a leading role in the development of environmental and ethnic studies. Twelve times Professor Hundley received either the Billington Award of the Western History Association or the Blegen Prize of the Forest History Society for editing the most outstanding article on western history or conservation history respectively. To honor his commitment, the Norris and Carol Hundley Award (conferred annually by the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association) provides a prize for the “most distinguished book” written by a scholar residing in the trans-Mississippi West and Western Canada.
Professor Hundley also served on various boards, including the executive committees of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association (president, 1994-95), the Institute of American Culture, and on the editorial board of the California Historical Association. He served as chair of the UCLA Program on Mexico from 1982-94, and as the director of the UCLA Latin American Center from 1989-94 and again from 1994-97. He also served as the 34th president of the Western History Association (1994-95).
As a scholar, Professor Hundley has authored over a hundred books and essays. He wrote with John Caughey the widely read California: History of a Remarkable State (fourth edition; Prentice-Hall 1982). However, Hundley is clearly best known for his scholarship about Western water rights, beginning with his published book Dividing the Waters: A Century of Controversy Between the United States and Mexico (1966, translated Spanish 2000), and then he expanded his approach to examine Water and the West: The Colorado River Compact and the Politics of Water in the American West (1975, revised 2009), both books serving as pioneers in the then-emerging field of water resource history.
He also wrote the highly acclaimed The Great Thirst: Californians and Water, 1770s-1990s (1992, revised 2001). He has authored scholarly articles, two of which merited the Western Historical Quarterly’s Oscar A. Winther Prize. His research has been acknowledged by grants from the Ford Foundation Award, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
And yet, what truly matters is the person he was and the impact he made on his family, friends, students and colleagues. He promoted inclusivity and equity for all people. Our family will always be grateful for every moment he was in our lives and for every moment that we will carry him with us for the rest our lives. Truly the world is a better place for him having been here.
Norris will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 56 years, Carol, his older daughter, Wendy Harris, and her husband, Craig, and his grandchildren Caitlyn Harris, Mackenzie Harris and Paige Harris; daughter Jacqueline Reid, husband Scott and grandson, Sean Kerr; along with step-grandsons Matthew Reid and Seth Reid and great-step-granddaughter Aubrey Reid.
A Memorial Mass will be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 at 1300 East Valley Road in Santa Barbara. A Reception will immediately follow the Mass at Stella Mare’s, 50 Los Patos Way in Santa Barbara.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Lewy Body Dementia Association Inc. at 404.935.6444. Arrangements entrusted to McDermott-Crockett Mortuary.