Professor John Terence Coppock, geographer;

born June 2, 1921, died

June 28, 2000

TERRY COPPOCK, whose incisive mind and boundless enthusiasm for agricultural geography did much to influence land use in Scotland, has died at the age of 79, after a long illness.

Though a man of prodigious energy and output, he did not take up an academic career until he was 27, in the immediate postwar years, taking first class honours at Queen's College, Cambridge, before moving to University College, London. By the time he moved to Edinburgh University in 1965, as Ogilvie Professor of Geography, his reputation in agricultural geography was firmly established, his research style based on the labour-intensive processing of agricultural census data. He made Edinburgh his home for the rest of his life.

Following a sabbatical year at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, he travelled widely on academic business both within the UK and abroad, giving more than his immediate colleagues an insight into his no-nonsense approach, winning their admiration with his habit of cat-napping during any tedious talk he was attending, then waking, uncannily on cue, to ask an incisive question.

A champion of the weight of logical argument, Prof Coppock strove for real value, substance rather than show. As a result he was much in demand to sit on countless commissions, review boards, and the like.

As computers for the handling of census data developed in the 1960s and seventies, it became apparent to him that handling statistical analysis and cartographic representation was a discipline in its own right and he was instrumental in setting up in Edinburgh the first MSc course in Geographical Information Science.

But it is for his major contributions to agricultural geography, planning, tourism, and recreation that he will be best remembered. Prof Coppock saw early on the emerging pressure on rural land for recreational use, a perception that led to an appreciation of tourism and recreation as a valid academic discipline. A Tourism and Recreation Research Unit was set up in the Department of Geography of which he was the director. That body's research reports on aspects of Scottish tourism had a marked influence on the planned development of what is today a major economic activity in Scotland.

Although a cost-effective proposal which he produced for the better monitoring of land at the national level was accepted by the Department of the Environment, it was not implemented. But a similar proposal to the Scottish Office in the late 1980s was acted upon, resulting in the first national aerial photographic cover of Scotland.

At home with his wife and two children, Prof Coppock enjoyed classical music, especially Brahms, but did not indulge, callers remember, in any form of accurate filing of the mounds of paper and reports with which the house was burdened.

His energy was legendary and colleagues recall that he would take an early morning train to London to attend a meeting and, despite advancing years, return by rail the same evening. He did this until he became unwell with a lupus infection three years ago. It is even said that while still teaching he held undergraduate tutorials at Edinburgh Airport while en route from Aberdeen and London.

A keen outdoors man, Prof Coppock was associated for more than three decades with the field Studies Association and, in recognition of the half-million pounds he raised for the field centre at Kindrogan, near Pitlochry, a unit there is named after him.

On retirement 14 years ago Prof Coppock threw himself into a second career as administrator for the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. There he was as tireless and indefatigable as he had been in academia.

Notwithstanding his illness he commuted daily by bus and train to the trust's offices in Dunfermline and, on his death, was planning to write for publication next year a centennial history of the Carnegie Trust.

Predeceased by his wife, Sheila, Terry Coppock leaves a son and daughter and two grandchildren.