Henry Godfrey Avers
selecting Henry Godfrey Avers for the “Man-of-the-Month”
the Buzzard is paying a tribute to one of the most popular and
genial men in the office.
Henry, as he’s known to his fishing pals entered the Bureau
way back in 1908 as a computer in the Division of Geodesy, and
has seen that division grow from a little shrimp in the government’s
ocean to a good size fish with a healthy income, thanks to its
efforts in the war program.
Not all of Aver’s service was in the office as from 1918
to 1922 he was in the field, running levels in Texas, Mississippi,
Alabama, Kentucky and Vermont with some traverse in Wisconsin.
In those early days of field work the roads and highways weren’t
the smooth avenues they are today and the horse was the favored
means of locomotion. Food was anywhere you could get it, as
the hot-dog stand had not then been born. Trailers, tourist
camps, radios and a few of the things that go with field life
today weren’t there, and when a man went to the field
in those days, he literally did just that.
But Capt. Henry seems to have enjoyed it and his field experience
gave him a broader understanding of the office problems in computing
the field work.
On his return to the Division he became a Senior Mathematician,
Chief of the Section of Leveling and then Chief Mathematician
where his deft touch in handling personnel, solving knotty equations
and keeping the Division on its good behavior has made him a
valued and important member of the Bureau. His tact and sympathy
in dealing with the personnel of the Division is well known
and many a person has gone in to weep on his shoulder about
the injustice of it all; to come away feeling sure that “Mr.
Avers would do something about it.”
Not only in the Division has his executive ability been displayed
but in the various scientific and engineering societies with
which he has been associated for a number of years. For ten
years he served the Washington Academy of Sciences as treasurer,
handling their finances with ease after his long experience
in figuring the estimates of the Division. In the Am. Soc. C.
E. he has been an active member, and has been Secretary of the
Division of Surveying and Mapping of that Society since its
beginning in 1929. He has seen the interest in surveying and
mapping grow from a few individuals to a large organization,
and he has played no small part in developing and fostering
this interest. The American Geophysical Union has also reaped
the benefit of his capable assistance as he was secretary of
the Sec. of Geodesy from 1929-31 and Chairman from 1932-35.
He’s a member of the Math Assn. of American, Philos. Soc.
of Wash., Wash. Soc. of Engrs., Amer. Assn. Advn. of Sc., Nat’l
Geog. Soc. (incidentally his connection with that Society has
produced benefits in the shape of apples each year from Admiral
Byrd’s office; he was a member of the Comm. which determined
how close Admiral Byrd went to the North and South Poles), the
Cosmos Club, and the Cong. of Surveying and Mapping. He is also
a Mason and belongs to the Scottish Rite and the Shriners.
Right now he’s helping the war effort by acting as Air
Raid Warden for his district. At the first blast of the “hoot-nanny”
he’s out in the street and on the alert for any forbidden
flickers of light and ready to help in any emergency.
On the lighter side of things, Capt. Henry is an ardent fisherman
and likes nothing better than to get a gang together for a trip
down the Bay. His desk holds an amazing collection of catalogues
containing mouth-watering descriptions of spinners, flies, lures,
etc., appealing items for the true piscator.
In the old B.W. (before war) days hardly a month went by in
the summer without the old gang, consisting of Avers, Parkhurst,
Weideman, Griffin and any one else they could drag along, dashing
down to the Bay to enjoy an afternoon of good fellowship and
tantalizing hope of making a record catch. On a few occasions
their luck was good and when it wasn’t – well, like
all fishermen, that didn’t stop them from making their
In spite of his many interests and varied activities, Capt.
Henry remains cool, calm, and collected at all times, whether
it’s answering some crank letter on how to solve the world’s
problems by mathematical processes, tactfully interviewing some
would-be mathematician, checking complex computations or handling
the details of a bond campaign. Even the annual estimates prove
to be ducksoup for him….
“The Buzzard”, Vol. IX, No. 45, pp. 1, 2, 7. Nov.
It is with profound regret that we announce
the death of Henry Godfrey Avers, Chief Mathematician of the
Division of Geodesy, at his home, 4109 – 38th Street,
N.W., after an illness of several weeks.
Mr. Avers was born in Elmore, Ohio, on March
6, 1886. He attended the College of Engineering, Ohio Northern
University, and graduated from George Washington University
with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He entered on duty with
the Coast and Geodetic Survey December 15, 1908, and was the
author of various articles.
He was a member of the Mathematical Association
of America, Philosophical Society of Washington, Washington
Academy of Science, American Society of Civil Engineers and
Secretary of the Division of Surveying and Mapping since 1929,
the American Geophysical Union, American Astronomical Society,
National Geographic Society, Cosmos Club of Washington, Albert
Pike Lodge No. 36, F.A.A.M., Albert Pike Consistory Scottish
Rites Masons, Almas Temple Ancient Arabic Order Nobles Mystic
Shrine, member of the National Geographic Society Committee
of Experts which determined that Commander Byrd went by airplane
very close to the North Pole in 1926 and the South Pole in 1929.
He was a member of the Reformation Lutheran Church of Washington….
“The Buzzard,” January 23, 1947. P. 5.