Dr. Hubertus

Dr. Hubertus "Hugh" Bloemer

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Archives

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OHIO professor’s name will adorn hill near his former home

Ray Postolovski learned a lot from Dr. Hubertus “Hugh” Bloemer about cartography during his time at Ohio University. Now an employee of the U.S. Geological Survey, Postolovski could think of no better tribute than to make sure Bloemer’s name, and former home, were officially on the map.

Bloemer, who died in 2011, was a former chair of the Geography Department at Ohio University and was director of its Cartographic Center for 38 years, from 1971 until 2009. His home was affectionately known as “Bloemerburg,” on the slope of a peak three miles northeast of Athens and one mile south of Sugar Creek.

Now, that 988-foot peak has a name – Bloemer Berg. The title is a play on words. Bloemer was a native of Germany, and in German, “burg” can translate as a fortified settlement or castle, while “berg” can refer to a peak or mount. Postolovski, a 1991 Ohio University alum, petitioned to have the name entered into the Geographic Names Information System, the nation’s official geographic names repository. In August 2016, he sought the aid of former OHIO President Roderick McDavis, who penned a letter of support for the move.

“Hugh Bloemer was committed to Ohio University, the Department of Geography, and especially his students, as reflected in his being named University Professor in 1985,” says Dr. James Dyer, Professor and Chair of Geography. “His legacy lives on through his endowment of two scholarships, including the Bloemer Geography Scholarship which covers a significant proportion of the recipient’s expenses to attend Ohio University.”

“It’s befitting that his legacy lives on cartographically as well, with the designation of Bloemer Berg near Hugh’s former residence, ‘Bloemerburg,’” Dyer says. “Geography faculty, and former colleagues and students have expressed their appreciation for this tribute, and I’m thankful to Ray Postolovski for making it happen. I am sure Hugh would have been honored by it.”

Bloemer was a native of Germany. “We all referred to his residence as ‘Bloemerburg’ because Dr. Bloemer opened his home to everyone and it was a place of community. I chose to name the summit near his former residence Bloemer Berg, since the pronunciation was the same as ‘Bloemerburg’ and Berg means summit in German,” Postolovski said.

For Postolovski, the decision to pursue the honor was a simple one – but he had to wait five years after Bloemer’s death to meet the U.S. Board of Geographic Names guidelines.

“First and foremost, he was quite pivotal in developing me professionally as a cartographer, but it went beyond that. Dr. Bloemer was just an incredible guy,” Postolovski said. He stayed in touch with Bloemer after graduation. “Working for the USGS, I guess I’m fortunate enough to be around mapping on a day-to-day basis, so I knew that there was an opportunity to name a feature after him.”

Bloemer became an instructor at Ohio University in 1971, an assistant professor in 1977 and associate professor in 1984. He taught at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, during a Fulbright year in 1989 and 1990, and served as chair of the Department of Geography from 1993 to 1998. He also served as chair of Faculty Senate from 2001 to 2004.

His research interest was in the field of high mountain remote sensing cartography.

“His association with high mountain remote sensing took him to many interesting parts of the world, including Tibet and Kazakhstan, and he completed three ascents of Mount Kilimanjaro. In his spare time over the past decade, he designed and constructed three ‘gazebos’ attached to his house, known affectionately to his friends as ‘Bloemerburg,’ and when he was not building, he ran off his excess energy at the racquetball court,” reports The Athens Messenger in his obituary.

“Dr. Bloemer was a one-of-a-kind person and his contributions to Ohio University and our community are vast,” McDavis wrote in his letter of support. “What a fitting honor for such an esteemed man.”

“Dr. Bloemer deeply cared about cartography, his students, and the community,” Postolovski added. “He was a gifted cartographer, teacher, and mentor. I felt it was fitting that someone who loved maps and mapping so much will be immortalized as a topographic feature.”