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Harold Jacob "Hal" Hietala
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Birth: Jan. 26, 1940
Itasca County
Minnesota, USA
Death: Jul. 14, 2010
Llano
Taos County
New Mexico, USA

Harold Jacob Hietala, Professor Emeritus, passed away Wednesday, July 14, at his home in the Upper Llano; Llano, New Mexico, with his wife, Lucy Stiffler at his side. He was 70 years old. Hal, as he preferred to be known, was born on Jan. 26, 1940 in the small town of Marble, Minnesota to Finnish immigrants Arnold and Hilda Hietala. He was the second of six children and his overabundant cognitive abilities and his zeal for living sent him in a lifelong pursuit of the unusual, the alternative, and often politically incorrect avenues of life. From an early age, he loved to rattle the cages of the established social structure and challenged the sensibilities of his peers and elders. He always received the greatest pleasure from raising an eyebrow or two.

The Hietala family moved to Montana's Gallatin Valley from Oregon, and Hal attended and graduated from Belgrade High School in 1957. He was known as that ducktailed young man who was so bright that he would finish his schoolwork ahead of everyone and then proceed to spend the rest of the class period bugging his classmates. In spite of his James Dean non-conformist spirit, he managed to win a wrestling championship in high school; at the time, the equivalent of a state wrestling title.

With adult life looming ahead, Hal decided to settle down and seek a career, so he attended Montana State University in Bozeman, then referred to as Montana State College. He received a BS degree in statistics in1961, followed by his MS in 1963, in mathematics. He then went on to work as a statistical analyst for North American Aviation, Autonetics in Washington D.C. until 1967, followed by a two year stint with the Stanwick Corporation as an operations research analyst. It was during this time-frame that Hal's work contributed to such well known projects as the Telstar satellite and the first moonshot. To satisfy his never-ending fondness for the unusual, Hal spent his recreational hours frequenting 1960's counter-cultural havens like Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. and the coffee houses of Greenwich Village in New York City.

Perhaps most people would be satisfied with a good job and the prospects for job security, but Hal marched to the beat of a different drummer. He became bored with his position and longed for new adventure. He discovered the field that would captivate him for the rest of his life while pursuing further education at UCLA. In 1973, Hal was awarded a Ph.D in Biostatistics with a MS in Anthropology. He was now armed with the tools that would truly broaden his horizons and provide him direct access to a never-ending array of present and ancient cultures around the world. Almost immediately, he accepted a rarely awarded duel c position of assistant professor in both the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Statistical Science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He remained at SMU for the remainder of his career, receiving the title of associate professor in 1980, and retiring from academic life in 2003. Hal published a book in 1989, entitled "Statistical Analysis in Archaeology".

Hal would say he despised teaching and he longed for his time in the field, excursions to foreign countries and exposure to different social systems and cultures. He spent months on end with the Bedouin people of Jordan. He applied his special talent of spatial analysis to newly discovered Neanderthal sites in the Middle East. He traveled around the world, taking several trips to Europe and visiting such sites as the ancient remnants of Egyptian civilization, the Mayan ruins of Belize, and Machu Picchu, in Peru. As only Hal could do, he identified his research interests in the following manner:

"Old World Middle, Upper, Late and Neolithic Archaeology: The Origins of Modern Human Culture, Prehistoric Social Organization and the Middle to Upper Paleolithic Transition; Theory and Applications of Spatial Data Analysis: Settlement Pattern Studies, Intersite and Intrasite Analyses; Discrete Multivariate Data Analysis: Estimation, Classification and Hypothesis Testing; Applications of Statistical Science: Engineering and Hard Science, Anthropology and Soft Science; Regional (and Global) Paleoclimate Reconstructions during the Holocene: Tree Ring Determinations of Temperature and Precipitation."

True to his personality, his interest in paleoclimate research was his attempt to refute current positions on global warming. He stated his findings were significant and promising, but hesitated to publish the results without further study. He was a firm believer that Neanderthal man interbred with Cro-Magnon man and declared that avoidance of this possibility was simply evidence of what he termed Paleoracism.

Hal married his first wife, Barbara Bernhardt, in 1974. They eventually divorced. Hal met Lucy Stiffler while teaching at SMU and the couple immediately developed a camaraderie that took them on numerous excursions among the Native American people and archaeological sites of the southwest. They both fell in love with the area and each other. They were married in 2004 after settling in Llano, New Mexico. Hal spent his retirement years investigating archaeological sites and consulting for various anthropological and statistical enterprises, including capital case jury composition studies for the firm of Vincent and Elkins, Dallas, Texas.

Hal is survived by his wife, Lucy Stiffler of Llano, New Mexico; two brothers, Lee Hietala of Bozeman, and Bruce Hietala of Butte; two sisters, Marilyn Vickhammer of Kalispell, and Bonnie Kobetsky of San Diego, California. In light of Hal's adventurous and unique character, no funeral services are scheduled. Cremation has taken place and a celebration of life, fitting for this unique brother and human being will take place at a later date.
 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Arnold Emil Hietala (1912 - 2003)
  Hilda Sylvia Palkki Hietala (1918 - 1987)
 
Burial:
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
 
Created by: Finn Kin Gal
Record added: Oct 20, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 99296154
Harold Jacob Hal Hietala
Added by: Finn Kin Gal
 
Harold Jacob Hal Hietala
Added by: Finn Kin Gal
 
 
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...and always. SISU, Cousin!
- DebZ
 Added: Oct. 21, 2012
 
 
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