In Memoriam: Alan Booth

Alan Booth of State College died on Wednesday, December 23, 2015, after a long illness. Alan, who was born in Dansville, New York to the late James Weber Booth and Vera Campbell Booth, grew up in East Aurora, New York. He earned his B.A. from Antioch College in 1958 and cherished that undergraduate experience. In 1960, he received an M.A. from UCLA and worked in the continuing education department at the University of British Columbia. In 1963, he moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to take a position in continuing education at the University of Nebraska and work on his Ph.D. there. In 1966 he obtained his Ph.D. in sociology and then became a member of the sociology faculty. During his time at Nebraska, he held the position of department chair and director of the Bureau of Sociological Research, expanding its reach and visibility. In 1972-74, he served as a Senior Researcher in the Canadian Ministry of State for Urban Affairs.

Alan joined the Penn State Department of Sociology in 1991 as a professor, and in 2000 was named a Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Human Development, and Demography. He retired in 2014.

Alan married the late Margaret Spalding in 1959. They had two daughters, both of whom survive him, Annie Louise Booth of Prince George, British Columbia, and Deborah Lynn Booth Little of New Westminster, British Columbia. In 1974, Alan married Susan Welch. Susan and their son Andrew Welch Booth also survive him. Additionally, Alan is survived by his sister Carol Booth Jennings, her husband David Ladd Denny, and their daughter Lisa Denny Senyk; grandchildren Sarah Ann Noel Little, Michael James Little, and Kathryn Mackenzie Little; great grandsons Max and Connor Gilkin, sister-in-law Helen Spalding and brother-in-law Robert Franklin Welch.

In addition to his family, Alan loved his work, music, travel, and Penn State women's volleyball. He also enjoyed his cats, the late Bart and the surviving Babs. The author of more than 100 articles and several books, Alan was a distinguished sociologist whose research on the family is known throughout the world. His most recent book, published by Harvard University Press in 2007, Alone Together: How Marriage in America is Changing, was co-authored with his friends and colleagues David Johnson, Paul Amato, and Stacy Rogers Silver. Alan established and for many years co-organized an annual symposium on the family, a conference bringing together scholars and policy makers from all over the U.S. He co-edited a number of books emanating from these annual gatherings, several with his friend and colleague Nan Crouter. In recent years, Alan was also a leader in the field of bio-social research and his work on the impact of hormones on human social behavior was particularly influential. Alan treasured his students, and advised and mentored many who have gone on to successful academic and non-academic careers.

Among other recognition, Alan received the American Sociological Association Family Section Distinguished Career Award in 2002 and was editor of the Journal of Marriage and the Family from 1986 to 1991. In 1995, he earned Penn State's Faculty Scholar Medal in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. His research on families was supported for more than twenty years by a variety of federal agencies.

Alan loved both jazz and classical music, and attended dozens of concerts each year in State College, Chautauqua, and other venues. He enjoyed travel, and especially his many trips to London and to the lakes of northern Minnesota. He prized his annual trips with his daughters to interesting places here and abroad. At home, he was an enthusiastic supporter of Penn State's women's volleyball program.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be sent to 001 Old Main, Penn State, University Park, Pa. 16802 for the Alan Booth Graduate Student Award/ Research Fund in Sociology.

Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at

In Memoriam

    Jerry S. Cloyd

    Jack Siegman

    Peter Beeson

    ALan Booth

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