John K. Costain, a professor of geophysics at Virginia Tech for 29 years until his retirement in 1996, died Tuesday at age 85.

Costain was a pioneer in using computers to analyze large amounts of seismic data. He is the namesake of a faculty chair position and a scholarship within the geophysics department, which were endowed in his honor by a former student, David Worthington. Worthington earned his master’s in geophysics from Virginia Tech in 1968, and has credited Costain with being “instrumental in setting my course” for professional success.

Costain received his bachelor’s degree from Boston University, and worked for Mobil in Venezuela for three years, according to his obituary posted on the McCoy Funeral Home website. He then went on to receive his doctoral degree from the University of Utah.

He came to Virginia Tech in 1967.

Costain “loved sailing, and enjoyed Sunday dinners with friends and family,” according to the online obituary. “He inherited a love of classical music from his father. He and his friends and family enjoyed many picnics at the Cascades and White Rocks.”

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at McCoy Funeral Home, 150 Country Club Dr.  S.W., Blacksburg. The family requests donations to the Blacksburg Rescue Squad, 200 Progress Street, NE, Blacksburg, VA 24060, and flowers should be sent to the McCoy Funeral Home.

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