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Cornell Family Ties


Dee Ann Rexroat '82



Darcy White Shargo ’98, Steve Shargo ’98, Ruth Selby Shargo ’70, and Nicholas Shargo ’70.

Mary Adelaide Wetherbee 1863 attended Cornell while her brother fought in the Civil War, reporting to her by letter from the battlefront in Tennessee, says her great-great-great-granddaughter, Ruth Selby Shargo ’70. She and Nicholas Shargo ’70 are the parents of Steve Shargo ’98 (wife, Darcy White Shargo ’98).


Erma Wilkinson Heslop ’27 is a member of a dynasty that spans nearly 100 years.

The Wilkinson dynasty spans nearly a century. William A. Wilkinson 1899 and Ollie Mae Dickinson Wilkinson 1898 sent three of their four children to Cornell: Alfred Wilkinson ’28 (wife, Frances Chassell Wilkinson ’29), Erma Wilkinson Heslop ’27, and Ralph Wilkinson ’34 (wife, Hildegarde Von Behren Wilkinson ’37). William was a Methodist minister in Iowa and South Dakota. At the time his children attended Cornell, tuition was half price for children of ministers.

Kay Wilkinson Norris ’64, the daughter of Alfred and Frances, says, “Going to the ‘family’ college gave me a special bond with my Cornell relatives.”

Other alumni connected to the Wilkinson family include Clara Frances Chassell Cooper ’12, Laura Merrilla Chassell Toops ’12, Joseph Olin Chassell ’19, Herbert A. Wilkinson ’28, and Michael Janes ’95 (wife, Jennifer Carmichael Janes ’95).


Sylvester Niles Williams was a professor of civil engineering at Cornell in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was a Cornell University graduate, but his wife, Mary Fancher Williams, attended Cornell College in the 1870s.

Five generations of the Williams family have attended Cornell, including Amy Williams of El Cajon, Calif., now entering her junior year. Her great-great-grandfather, Sylvester Niles Williams, was a professor of civil engineering at Cornell for 40 years after graduating from Cornell University’s first class in 1872. His wife, Mary Fancher Williams, attended Cornell College in the 1870s, as did many Fanchers, one of the pioneer families of Waterloo. Their children were Elizabeth Williams Lounsbury ’01, the Rev. Sylvester Vernon Williams ’01, and Eva Fancher Williams ’13. Their son had the distinction of being born in 1883 in South Hall, then a men’s dormitory supervised by his father, and graduating from Cornell at age 17.

Cornell junior Amy Williams (left), pictured with biology professor Barbara Christie-Pope, is the great-great-granddaughter of Sylvester Niles and Mary Williams.
The Rev. Williams sent to Cornell his son, Sylvester Francis Williams ’32, and daughter, Marjorie Williams Weber ’35 (husband, Karl Weber ’37)—although possibly with regret. In a 1954 letter to alumni director Paul Scott ’29, the Rev. Williams wrote:

“My own son came to Cornell with a call to the ministry. … He learned to smoke and play cards and dance in the worldly atmosphere of Cornell. Gave up his call to the ministry and never got back his religious experience.”

His son was one of the rare grads to earn first a BA and later an MA at Cornell. He in turn sent to Cornell his children, the fourth generation of Williamses: Barbara Williams Erickson ’61 (husband, Jere Erickson ’61), George Williams ’69 (Amy’s father), and Howard Williams ’73.

Sisters Mercie Heise ’23 and Priscilla Heise Oswald ’26; Priscilla’s daughter, Winifred Oswald Tillmann ’55, and son, Fred Charles “Chuck” Oswald ’59 (wife, Ann Pollnow Oswald ’60); Winifred’s daughter, Susan Tillmann Duijndam ’80; Chuck and Ann’s son, John Oswald ’86.

Edna Leverington Rowe ’12; son, Verald Rowe ’36 (wife, Mary Gardner Rowe ’37); grandson, James Rowe ’64.

Joan Landquist Kirkpatrick '66, Brooke Alison Kirkpatrick '02, Scott Douglas Kirkpatrick '93, Kelly Remakel Kirkpatrick '92, and Douglas Kirkpatrick '65(from left).
Douglas Kirkpatrick ’65 (wife, Joan Landquist Kirkpatrick ’66); son, Scott Kirkpatrick ’93 (wife, Kelly Remakel Kirkpatrick ’92), and daughter, Brooke Kirkpatrick, a senior at Cornell; Kelly’s cousin, Angie Brimeyer ’97.

Dennis Swanson ’65; sons Mark Swanson ’94 and David L. Swanson ’90 (wife, Mikkii Cassem Swanson ’91); Mikkii’s brother, Jerry Cassem Jr. ’92 (wife, Teri Snitker Cassem ’94).

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