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Family Leaves Legacy Of More Than 200 Cornellians


Dee Ann Rexroat '82

Right: Alice Fellows Rigby 1867, Alison Moore Swords ’35, and Alice Rigby Moore ’02 (from left) represent the first three generations of President Fellows’ Cornell dynasty.

Cornell’s other leading dynasty is the Sopers. Among its members is Englishman John Francis Cory, who paid for the Seth Thomas clock that still keeps time in King Chapel’s tower. He sent four children to Cornell. Daughter Elizabeth Cory 1868 married classmate Capt. E.B. Soper 1868, later a president of the Cornell Board of Trustees credited with championing and raising the money for Alumni Gymnasium. All three of their children, all nine grandchildren, and 15 of 16 great-grandchildren attended Cornell. President Harlan awarded tuition scholarships to all their children and grandchildren, thus accounting for a large number of Soper graduates extending to the third and fourth generations.

Capt. E.B. Soper 1868 was chair of the board of trustees and raised the money to erect Alumni Gymnasium.

John William Cory 1871 (son of John F. Cory) married a Smyth as did his daughter, doubly linking the Corys with a large and prominent Mount Vernon family. Descendant Margaret Smyth Emmons ’44 and has sent two daughters (Sally Jo Emmons Myers ’76 and Susan R. Emmons ’78) to Cornell.

A Soper married a Rigby in the early 1900s, thus joining Cornell’s two major dynasties. The families are related in other ways, too. Gladys Rigby Van Pelt ’13 was responsible for bringing noted pianist Jacques Jolas to the music faculty, and his daughter, Helene, class of 1951, married Dr. Robert Soper ’49, University of Iowa professor emeritus of surgery and recipient of the 1984 Alumni Achievement Award.


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