Andrew Grebneff - an exceptional fossil preparator in the Department of Geology - died unexpectedly on 7 July, aged 51, in Tiujana, Mexico. Andrew had worked the previous week in the fossil preparation lab - his work station shown in the photo - until Wednesday 30 June, and then said he'd take a few days off. He had the weekend with his family, out of town, but returned to Dunedin early, ostensibly to do field work. He didn't return home on Monday night, and on Tuesday 6 July was tracked to Los Angeles. From there, he sent a brief message saying he would not return.
It has taken some time to organise return of the body. The NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the NZ Embassy in Mexico City, and Hope & Sons Funeral Directors in Dunedin, have been most helpful. Andrew's body arrived in New Zealand 25 July, and the funeral was held Monday 26 July, at the Crematorium Chapel, Anderson's Bay Cemetery, Dunedin, followed by a reception in the Geology Museum, University of Otago. The Museum was the main focus of Andrew's career, and includes his former work area and displays of material that he prepared.
Andrew Grebneff worked in the Department of Geology, University of Otago, as a fossil preparator since 1985, on rolling short term contracts. He had consuming interests in paleontology, and in the study of molluscs. He was an exceptionally skilled preparator, meeting the highest international standards. Consider, for example, the excellent quality of his work seen in preparation of fossils such as Waipatia, Llanocetus, Mauicetus, Australodelphis, Carcharodon, Megalampris and many more vertebrates - and a plethora of invertebrates: molluscs, brachiopods, arthropods, echinoderms, corals, bryozoans and more. The photos here show examples of Andrew's work. Andrew prepared material that has been displayed at Otago Museum (the Southern Lands gallery fossils), Museum of NZ, Vanished World, the GNS-Dead Precious touring exhibition, Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science - Tokyo, and National Museum of Natural History - Smithsonian. As a paleontologist and preparator at this Department, and as a field collector, he met and worked with many scientific visitors, senior students, and museum staff. He had an extensive correspondence circle. He spoke with knowledge and understanding about the personal contributions of paleontologists and molluscan worders, and used articles written by many. Beyond science, he had a prodigious general knowledge, including motorbikes, cars and especially VW buses.
Andrew was rather a private man, who was reticent about personal matters to colleagues, friends and acquaintances, and reticent about work to his family - wife Kala, daughter Karishma and son Aden. Paleontology was so much of his life, and his contributions have been the subject of many of the messages that have arrived since his death. Those messages have helped the family to understand the breadth and value of Andrew's work. The family can be contacted at 38 Crosbie Street, Mornington, Dunedin, tel 453 4436; email vwkala_at_xtra.co.nz
Andrew rarely had money to spare. Any that he had went on his shell collection and VW vans. To help his wife Kala cover the costs of repatriating Andrew's body, and putting his affairs in order, a bank account has been set up for donations. The details are:
Physical and postal address - Westpac Bank, corner of George and Frederick Streets, Dunedin 9059.
Branch - Dunedin North.
Account number: 03 0883 0583747 00.
Account name: Andrew Grebneff Memorial Fund [The signatories for the account are R Ewan Fordyce and C Kala Grebneff, and the beneficiary is Kala Grebneff]
Swift number for overseas transactions: WPACNZ2W
BIC number: 030883
It will be possible to use direct credit for deposits. Please note that every deposit from overseas will cost the account $10.
The account contains an initial donation of NZD$1000.