Herbert Floyd Crovitz

Herbert Floyd Crovitz

Dr. Herbert Floyd Crovitz

May 21,1932 – July 15, 2014

Herbert Floyd Crovitz of Pittsboro died July 15 at age 82.  

He was born May 21, 1932 in Providence, R.I., to Jack and Natalie Crovitz.

He earned a BA and MA at Clark University and received his Ph.D. in psychology at Duke University in 1960.

He was a science fiction writer and served as the chief statistician for the State of Rhode Island before becoming a research psychologist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Durham, N.C., and a professor of psychology at Duke University. He was the author of “Galton’s Walk,” a book about memory.  

For more than 30 years, he kept notebooks as an aid to studying memory. He wrote in Science magazine in 1969, “In them is everything written down as it occurs: good ideas, bad ideas, plans for experiments, data from experiments, notes of what I read and what I think.” These notebooks, measuring 30 linear feet, are held in the Duke University Archives.

Despite a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at the age of 18, he enjoyed a full, rewarding and long life, serving as a happy inspiration to family and friends.  

His wife Jane B. Crovitz predeceased him. He is survived by his children Gordon Crovitz (Minky Worden) of New York, N.Y., Debbie Manus (Paul Manus) of Oak Park, Ill., and Sara Crovitz (John Sherburne) of McLean, Va. Stepdaughter Jill Burtnett predeceased him. He is survived by stepson Jonathan Burtnett, with whom he lived during his final years, and by stepchildren Carrie Dasen, Amy Johnson and Timothy Burtnett. He was proud of his grandchildren, Melissa Manus, Justin Manus, Jack Crovitz, Ben Sherburne, James Crovitz and Tom Crovitz and his step-grandchildren Bryan Johnson, Matthew Johnson, Rachel Dasen and Laura Dasen. He is survived by his sister, Sandra Cobden of Warwick, R.I., and former wife, Elaine Crovitz, of Hillsborough, N.C.

A memorial will be held on August 16 at the home from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Donations should be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


  • Andrew Apter Posted March 10, 2018 1:31 pm

    One of my favourite people of all time. I worked alongside Herb for several years as a graduate student at Duke. He was a wonderful raconteur and we spent many many hours talking about science fiction, psychological experiments and when would I get him his next cup of coffee. He always had a great smile for me and a dashing personality to boot. We wrote a few papers together. Unforgettable experience and I have missed him!

  • Walter Daniel Posted June 10, 2019 10:19 am

    I worked for Herb for a long time while an employee in research at the Durham VA. Herb and I published a lot of journal articles, mainly in the area of human neuropsychology. Herb was fun to work side by side.

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