Biographical / Historical
David Challinor and Joan Ridder Challinor were married in 1952 and lived in Houston, Texas where David worked as a cotton broker, farmer, and then a mortgage banker. They had four children: Julia, Mary, Sarah, and David, and six grandchildren. In the late 1950s, they settled in Connecticut, where David pursued graduate studies in forest ecology at Yale University and during which time the couple made home movies.
From 1960-1964, David Challinor served as the deputy director of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History under Sidney Dillon Ripley, and in 1965 became the acting director after Ripley became the Smithsonian's secretary. When in 1966 Challinor received his doctorate from Yale University, Ripley recruited him to serve as the Special Assistant for Tropical Biology of the Smithsonian's Office of the Secretary. From 1967-1971 he served as the deputy director and, subsequently, the director of the Office of International Activites. He then served as Assistant Secretary for Science and Research for sixteen years before becoming the Science Advisor to the Secretary prior to his retirement in 1996 when he was named Scientist Emeritus for the National Zoological Park. He died in 2008, leaving a professional legacy of conservationism.
During Challinor's tenure as Assistant Secretary for Science and Research at the Smithsonian, Joan R. Challinor pursued graduate studies in history at American University, receiving her doctorate in 1982. Her work involved serving on numerous committees and organizations, many of which were library and education related, including the Schlesinger Library Advisory Committee and the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Through the 1980s and 1990s, she lectured at American University, was a research associate at the National Museum of American History, wrote numerous essays, edited two books, and even produced a documentary film about Thomas Paine. She was also the director of Knight Ridder, Inc., a print media company, from 1989 until 2001. She continues to live and work in the Washington, D.C. area.