Francis Wallace ’34
Francis Wallace ’34, a career pilot who provided his classmates a memorable glimpse of the newest mode of transportation, died Nov. 8, 2006, in Setauket, N.Y. He was 93.
On a fall Sunday in 1931, Wallace “startled the students by encircling the chapel tower in the Fleet biplane,” the Cornellian reported.
He brought an airplane to college so he could accumulate hours in the cockpit. His goal was to pilot commercial airlines, and “in those days, to get on with an airline, you almost had to be in the military, because there were few people who could pay for flying time,” said his son, Jack.
As a child, Wallace was fascinated by the barnstormers who came through his hometown of Red Oak, Iowa. In 1928 his family moved to Freeport, Ill., where his father ran a small airport and taught him to fly. He spent two years at Cornell, transferred to the University of Michigan, earned a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1936, and started his career as a commercial pilot. By the time he retired from Pan American Airlines in 1973 he had made over 1,000 Atlantic crossings.
He is survived by his wife, Carmen, two sons, four grandchildren, three greatgrandchildren, and a brother, Paul Wallace ’41.
John Gordon Chamberlin ’35
John Gordon Chamberlin ’35, who launched a campaign against poverty in North Carolina in the ’80s, died Nov. 30, 2006, in Greensboro, N.C. He was 92.
The North Carolina Poverty Project, the nonprofit organization he formed in 1987, sent volunteers statewide to explain what it means to be poor and to correct misconceptions about poverty. The group aired television ads about poverty, published booklets describing the problem, sponsored seminars for professionals including schoolteachers and lawyers, and took high school students from low-income districts to Duke University’s medical center to expose them to careers rarely accessible in their hometowns. A retired college professor, he enlisted professors at universities across the country to help with his cause.
Chamberlin was an ordained Methodist minister like his father, who served seven small Iowa towns during his son’s childhood. Early in his career, Chamberlin was education director at churches in New York and Minneapolis. He earned a doctorate in education from Columbia University and was a professor of education at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in the ’60s and ’70s.
He is survived by a daughter and three sons.
Earl Rodine ’43
Earl Rodine ’43, a teacher and neighborhood activist credited with a defining act of sportsmanship and integrity in high school, died Oct. 14, 2006, in Des Moines. He was 86.
As captain of his high school football team in the Des Moines city championship game, senior quarterback Rodine tossed a fourth-quarter pass caught near the goal—by a tackle, an ineligible receiver. Officials did not call a penalty, but Rodine admitted the infraction, and possession of the ball went to the opponent, ahead by a point and en route to victory. Rodine was hailed for his sportsmanship, and decades later he was inducted into the B’nai Brith Hall of Fame. He became legendary in Des Moines athletics
as an example of honesty and character.
Rodine went on to play football and basketball at Cornell. He served with the Marines in the Philippines during World War II, returned to Iowa, earned a master’s degree at the University of Iowa, and began a 34-year teaching career at Des Moines elementary and junior high schools. After his retirement in 1982, he joined his wife in advocating for neighborhood issues at school board and city council meetings. The playground at Des Moines’ Harding
Middle School is named for him after his work to improve the site.
He is survived by two sons, four grandsons, a sister, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Robert Geshner ’52
Robert Geshner ’52, a pioneering expert in microscopic photo etching and E-Beam technology who had a worldwide impact on the engineering and scientific communities, died Oct. 31, 2006, in Dubuque, Iowa. He was 78.
During a career spanning three decades, he progressed at RCA to become director of the microphotolithography laboratory, with many patents to his name. Who’s Who of American Men of Science lists him for work on state-of-the-art systems in mask-making, etching, design, television, and computer use. He earned a commendation from the President for work that produced images of the lunar rover traveling over the moon’s surface.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy Beebe Geshner ’54; a daughter; two grandchildren; sister-in-law Hazel Miller Geshner ’40; brother-in-law Willard Beebe III ’56; niece Susan Geshner Kaplowe ’66; nephew John R. Geshner ’68; and cousin Loraine Todson Moyer ’51. Family members who preceded him in death include a brother, John A. Geshner ’41, and cousin, Alan Moyer ’52.
John Arthur ’68
John Arthur ’68 died on Jan. 22, 2007, after a year’s battle with lung cancer (he was a lifetime non-smoker). He was 60 years old.
John’s significant professional life combined an academic career in philosophy with an ongoing commitment to racial justice. He consistently during his career credited Cornell philosophy professors Bill Debbins and Ken Freeman for developing his lifelong interest in philosophy.
After graduating from Cornell, John received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University. His first position after Vanderbilt was on the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Nashville.
John worked diligently over a several-year period to help implement the court-ordered merger of the University of Tennessee at Nashville with Tennessee State University, an historically black state university. John was a key player in the higher education desegregation lawsuit that led to the merger and which resulted in a final settlement just this year, after almost 40 years of litigation. The settlement resulted in millions of state dollars being devoted to physical and academic improvements at Tennessee State University. While at the University of Tennessee at Nashville, John was granted a leave of absence to accept a two-year fellowship at Harvard Law School where he wrote his first book, The Unfinished Constitution, an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Politically, John was not doctrinaire—for example, the senior class photo he submitted for the Cornell yearbook was a photo of Ho Chi Minh (John was strongly opposed to the Vietnam War), yet he later became an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal. The common thread to John’s professional life could be summarized as focusing both on what is fair and on the importance of treating people with respect.
After one-year visiting professor positions at Lake Forest College and at the College of Charleston, John accepted a position on the philosophy faculty of Binghamton University in upstate New York in 1988. He initiated a program in philosophy, politics and law, which in only a few years became one of the most popular undergraduate majors at Binghamton. The program included a study-abroad component that took John and groups of students annually to the University of East Anglia in England for several years. John was a popular teacher and earned distinguished teaching awards from both Binghamton University and the Chancellor of the State University of New York. While at Binghamton, he was granted a leave of absence to accept a semester’s fellowship at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland in 1995 and a yearlong appointment as an honorary fellow of Balliol College at Oxford University in 2002-2003.
John was a prolific author and editor—nine books on philosophy, legal ethics, legal issues relating to race and constitutional law. His anthology Morality and Moral Controversies, now in its seventh edition, is one of the two or three most widely used college texts in ethics courses throughout the country. He completed his final book, Race, Equality and the Burdens of History, on which he had worked for nearly 15 years, shortly before his death. It is due for publication by Cambridge University Press this summer.
John was married for 18 years to his Cornell classmate Aleta Grillos Trauger ’68, now a federal judge in Nashville and a past member of the Cornell board of trustees. John is survived by his wife, Amy Shapiro, whom he married in 1990, and who is a lawyer in Binghamton.