From the New York Times, April 22:
Kelsie B. Harder, Name Expert, Dies at 84
Kelsie B. Harder, whose ruminations about why his parents gave him what sounded like a girl’s name provoked such enthrallment with proper nouns that he became a leading onomastician — a student of names and their origins — died on April 12 at his home in Potsdam, N.Y. He was 84.
Mr. Harder was a toponomist--a scholar of place names--whose interest in the subject began, as the Times's Douglas Martin notes, "with baby steps, literally":
Dr. Harder learned that his parents had wanted to give him an unusual name and liked the sound of Elsie, his sister’s. They stuck a “K” in front of Elsie. Dr. Harder, like “A Boy Named Sue” in the song, spent a lifetime explaining that he was not a girl named Kelsie.
“We are at the mercy of our name givers,” he said in a 1987 interview with The Post-Standard of Syracuse. “These things influence us for the rest of our lives, and we have nothing to do with it.”