Update: 1:14PM PROFESSOR Ron Crocombe, an educationist renown for his scholarly contributions towards the development of the Pacific, has passed away.
The University of the Pacific's emeritus professor reportedly died from a heart attack on his way to the Cook Islands from Tonga where he was inducted as one of the six fellows of the Atenisi University.
Professor Crocombe was 79 years old.
He is survived by his wife Marjorie, four children Tata, Ngaire, Kevin and Sam, and many grandchildren, according to Cook Islands News.
Born in New Zealand, Professor Crocombe lived and worked in the Pacific islands for half a century.
He served as director of Australia National University's New Guinea Research Unit in the 1960s and most notably as Professor of Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific for 20 years, beginning in the 1970s.
As Emeritus Professor (since 1989), Crocombe was one of the longest-serving members of USP, the founding professor of Pacific Studies and one of the earliest senior lecturers there.
Crocombe has not only been called the academic father figure of Pacific Studies but a phenomenon for his many contributions after retiring.
He has written many authoritative books. One of his most recent is 50 years of study into 4000 years of Asias influence on the Pacific titled Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West.