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Alumni Necrology

Clayton Reed Alcorn, Jr. ’60

Clayton Reed Alcorn, Jr. ’60, an emeritus professor who taught French for 39 years at the State University of New York College at Cortland, was born on April 12, 1938, in Atlantic City, NJ. A son of Clayton R., a sales representative, and Eleanore Soulas Alcorn, he grew up in Cortland and came to College Hill in 1956 from Cortland High School. “Clayt” Alcorn joined Lambda Chi Alpha (later Gryphon) and took to dramatics with the Charlatans and singing tenor with the Choir. He also served on the staff of The Hamiltonian and took great pleasure in playing the piano to the tune of “There’s Nothing Like a Dame.” Majoring in French, he participated in the College’s Junior Year in France program and was graduated with honors in French in 1960. He took away from the Hill a lifelong affection for “serious” music as well as the French language, thanks in great part to John Baldwin and Frank Hamlin.

Guided by the advice of Professor Marcel Moraud, Clayton Alcorn enrolled as a graduate student in Romance languages at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Awarded a National Defense Education Act Fellowship, he earned an M.A. degree in 1963. That year, while continuing work on his Ph.D. at Connecticut, he began his long career at the State University College in his hometown of Cortland as an instructor in French. On August 29, 1964, in Cortland, he was wed to Rita Marie Sardo. Promoted to assistant professor in 1966, he acquired his Ph.D. in Romance languages and literature from Connecticut in 1968 and was thereafter promoted to associate professor. A full professor since 1977, he was interim chair of Cortland’s foreign languages department when he retired in 1997. However, “since going to class in what I like best,” he continued to teach part-time until 2002.

Clayton Alcorn, who did research and wrote extensively on the novelist Emile Zola, was the author of numerous articles on French literature. In addition, he supervised student teachers, served as academic advisor to exchange students, and helped develop and refine the instruction program in French given by Cortland’s students in local elementary schools. He at one time chaired Cortland’s study-abroad and long-range planning committees, and served on the State Education Department’s advisory panel for the evaluation of the teachers’ certificate exam in French.

Within the Cortland community Dr. Alcorn served for nine years on the city’s board of education and was a past president of the Cortland Rotary Club as well as a district governor of Rotary International. A former president of the board of the Cortland County Hospice Foundation and an American Heart Association volunteer, he was also treasurer of the Cortland Interfaith Association. On the board of the Cortland Repertory Theatre and a member of the chorus in its musical productions, he also kept his devotion to music alive as choir director of St. Anthony’s Church and by playing Dixieland and jazz piano as soloist and with several local groups at parties and various other events.

Clayton R. Alcorn, Jr., a highly loyal and supportive alumnus, died unexpectedly at his home in Cortland on April 27, 2006. In addition to his wife of 41 years, he is survived by two daughters, Michele Roberts and Stephanie Spaid, and five grandchildren and his brother, John W. Alcorn ’64.
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Arthur Albert Benjamin, Jr. ’60

Arthur Albert Benjamin, Jr. ’60, a longtime Air Force recruiter who became a greatly respected high school principal, was born on December 28, 1938, in New York City. A son of Arthur A., a hospital employee, and Dorothy Roebuck Benjamin, a clothing examiner in Manhattan’s garment district, he grew up on Harlem’s fringes in Morningside Heights and came to Hamilton in 1956 from Elisabeth Irwin High School. One of the very few African-American students attending the college in that era, Art Benjamin became a member of ELS and played football and ran track. He was also active in the Charlatans and the Canterbury Club. After two years on the Hill, however, he was compelled for financial reasons to withdraw from the College. He joined the U.S. Air Force, intending to return to Hamilton following his four-year term of enlistment. Instead, he would remain in the Air Force for 22 years.

Stationed in Tokyo as a medical technician, Art Benjamin traveled through much of the Far East to escort seriously ill military personnel to a base in Japan, from which they would be flown back to the States. He later served in the States as a health professions recruiter for the Air Force and routinely received awards for his superior job performance. Senior Master Sergeant Benjamin was stationed at Mather Air Force Base in California when he retired in 1980 and took up permanent residence in nearby Sacramento.

In 1983, after three years of employment as manager of the department of radiology at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center, Art Benjamin joined the faculty of Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento as an Air Force Junior ROTC instructor. While teaching, he acquired a master’s degree in educational administration from National University. Appointed vice principal of McClatchy High School in Sacramento in 1992, he returned two years later to Hiram Johnson, an ethnically diverse and then greatly troubled urban high school, as its principal.

Hiram Johnson was afflicted with decaying buildings and plagued by gangs as well as a poor image. Committed to reversing the school’s decline, Art Benjamin enthusiastically and energetically launched a major effort to improve its facilities and ensure safety for its students. “Firm but fair,” and extending respect to students while offering them fatherly guidance, he “restored order, raised morale, and opened the doors to outside groups and educational programs,” in the words of The Sacramento Bee. Hailed as a role model and a force for good during his six years as principal, he retired in 2000 to enjoy golf and his extensive jazz record collection.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, Art Benjamin, without self pity and with his usual wholehearted determination, devoted the last years of his life not only to fighting the disease but also to alerting others to its perils. He became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and served on the advisory board of the UC Davis Cancer Center. He also became executive director of the African American Prostate Cancer Initiative, which promoted awareness and testing.

Arthur A. Benjamin, a lector and Eucharistic minister of Trinity Cathedral Church, and described by friends as “a soft-spoken man of integrity who commanded respect and inspired confidence through personal example,” died of cancer on March 1, 2006, in Sacramento. He is survived by his wife, the former Beverly J. Gregory, whom he had married in 1985. Also surviving are a daughter, Dorothy Jones, born of his first marriage to Yasuko Ishijima while he was stationed in Japan in 1962, and a grandson, Anthony Arthur Jones, as well as a stepdaughter and a brother.
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Jay Gilmer Dungan ’60

Jay Gilmer Dungan ’60, a former sales director, was born on March 6, 1937, to Theodore A., a chemical engineer, and Jayne Gilmer Dungan, in Phoenix, AZ. Jay Dungan grew up in northern California, where he prepared for college at Menlo School in Menlo Park, and came to Hamilton in 1956 from Los Altos. He joined Chi Psi and made contributions to student publications. While at Hamilton, he developed a major problem with alcohol, against which, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, he struggled for many years. After three years on the Hill, he left for academic reasons and returned to California. He entered the University of California, Berkeley, where he acquired a B.A. degree in political science in 1961.

After a year of employment in the research department of Cordero Mining Co. and graduate study at what is now Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management in Arizona, Jay Dungan joined Macmillan, Inc., the publishing firm. He served successively as its Caribbean representative, field sales manager, assistant marketing director in New York, and advertising director in Los Angeles. He left Macmillan after 15 years to become sales director for English Language Services in Encino. He subsequently set up shop as a sales and marketing consultant in San Francisco, and, when last heard from in 2000, was employed in sales by Aegis Mortgage Acceleration Corp., also in San Francisco.

Jay Dungan, who enjoyed extensive travel and had been active in the Democratic Party, described himself at the time of the 40th Reunion of his Hamilton class as “a gay male living with my companion of 15 years.” He was residing in Oakland when he died on February 20, 2006, according to Social Security records. The College has no information on survivors.
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Noel David McLean ’60

Noel David McLean ’60, a journalist who retired as a communications manager for the U.S. Postal Service, was born on November 6, 1937, in Glen Ridge, NJ. The son of Noel B., an aircraft company executive, and Loretta Potts McLean, he grew up in Glen Ridge and came to College Hill in 1956 from Glen Ridge High School. Dave McLean joined Chi Psi and went out for basketball and track. Elected president of the Chi Psi Lodge and tapped for Nous Onze, he majored in history and was graduated in 1960.

He next enrolled at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, where he earned his M.B.A degree in international business in 1962. Thereafter he went on active duty with the U.S. Navy and was soon caught up in the Cuban Missile Crisis as an officer aboard an LST. Remaining in uniform as a lieutenant (j.g.) until 1965, he was last assigned to the staff of an amphibious group in Norfolk, VA.

David McLean began his journalism career in his home state as a reporter for the Newark Evening News and became its assistant financial editor. He left the Evening News in 1970 and was briefly a reporter and columnist for The Wall Street Journal in New York City before settling in Washington, DC, in 1971 as associate editor of Nation’s Business magazine. As a journalist, he recalled years later, “I didn’t make much money but I had a hell of a lot of fun.”

In 1975, after a year as assistant director of the Tire Industry Safety Council, David McLean joined the Postal Service. He successively managed its national media relations, employee publications, and speechwriting. Engaged in public relations on behalf of that often beleaguered government agency for 23 years, he retired in 1998, three heart surgeries having prompted him to “call it quits.”

David McLean, a former vestryman of St.Timothy’s Episcopal Church in McLean, VA, and treasurer of the Washington chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, left the Washington area for the comparative quiet of Arkansas, the home state of his wife, the former Carroll Rather, whom he had married in 1983. They took up residence in Hot Springs Village where, while “gradually overcoming culture shock,” Dave undertook to “live a balanced life of painting, golfing, free-lance writing and editing, cooking, pursuing genealogy, computing, traveling, and church work.” A former legislative director of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, he was a lay Eucharistic minister of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Hot Springs Village and past editor of its newsletter. He also served as chairman of the Artists Workshop Gallery in Hot Springs Village, where, as a longtime artist, his own paintings were on display.

N. David McLean, a faithful alumnus, was still residing in Hot Springs Village when his long battle with heart disease ended on April 8, 2006. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a sister, Nancy Case.
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Richard Wayne Ochs ’60

Richard Wayne Ochs ’60, a junior high school mathematics teacher who earned wide recognition as a watercolor artist, was a lifelong resident of Newburgh, NY, where he was born on December 26, 1938. The son of Harold J., a YMCA secretary, and Gertrude Goetchius Ochs, a bookkeeper, he came to College Hill from Newburgh Free Academy in 1956. With a keen interest in science and math, and a penchant as a teenager for computing the dimensions of buildings, Dick Ochs thought of a future career in engineering.  However, after majoring in economics and math at Hamilton, he decided on teaching instead. A member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and manager of the baseball team, he was graduated in 1960.

Dick Ochs returned to his hometown along the Hudson, where he obtained appointment as a math teacher at South Junior High School. He would spend 32 years in its classrooms. On the side he took graduate courses in math at the State University of New York at Albany and at New Paltz. He also served in the Army National Guard.  On April 14, 1968, he and Lucinda L. (Cindy) Bushart were married in Newburgh.

By the time Dick Ochs retired from teaching in 1992, he had become well established as a professional artist. With limited formal art training but with the early encouragement of his mother, herself an amateur painter, he had over the years developed an interest in creative art. By the 1970s, he had found his medium in watercolor. With an impressionistic approach that produced “limpidly beautiful images,” he fashioned works that were widely exhibited and captured numerous awards.  They found their way into galleries and institutional collections all along the East Coast as well as into private collections, including that of television personality Merv Griffin.

Dick Ochs, who also conducted demonstrations and art workshops throughout the Northeast, was exceedingly active in local art organizations. A former president of the Dutchess County Art Association and the North East Watercolor Society, he served on the executive board of the Kent Art Association. In addition, he was a member of many other art organizations, including the Salmagundi Club.

Afflicted with cancer, Richard W. Ochs died on January 30, 2006, while hospitalized in Cornwall, NY.  He is survived by his wife of 38 years.
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Marvin Grant Chambers ’61

Marvin Grant Chambers ’61, a retired insurance company manager, was born on July 25, 1939, in Ballston Spa, NY. A son of Marvin S. and Ruth Jones Chambers, he served as president of the Student Council at Ballston Spa High School, from which he was graduated in 1957. Grant Chambers arrived on College Hill that year and joined Delta Upsilon. He became house steward and a “guiding light” at DU, and he also played varsity football for four years. Majoring in economics, he was awarded his diploma in 1961.

Following his graduation, Grant Chambers joined Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. as an underwriting trainee. He would remain with Liberty Mutual until his retirement 39 years later. Promoted in 1963 to senior underwriter while at the company’s offices in Bala Cynwyd, PA, he was subsequently named supervising underwriter for commercial risks at its Southern Division in Atlanta, GA. In 1970, he returned to Bala Cynwyd as assistant chief underwriter, followed by a move to Liberty Mutual’s Boston headquarters in 1974 as supervisor of commercial risks underwriting. After serving as director of property insurance, he retired as assistant vice president and manager of property in 2000.

A resident of Medfield, MA, since 1974, Grant Chambers was an ardent Red Sox fan. He coached in the Medfield Little League and was also an umpire and soccer coach.

M. Grant Chambers died on March 7, 2006, at his home in Medfield, after a long battle with cancer. In addition to his mother, he is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, the former Arlene Balmer. Also surviving are a son, John S. Chambers, and a grandson, a sister, and two brothers.
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Stephen Franklin Knapp ’63

Stephen Franklin Knapp ’63, an authority and consultant on disability programs, was born on March 27, 1941, to Wilbur H. and Marjorie Franklin Knapp, in Elmira, NY. Steve Knapp grew up in Elmira, where his father owned and operated an awning business, and was graduated from Elmira Free Academy in 1959, the year he entered Hamilton. He joined Theta Delta Chi and majored in psychology.

Following his graduation in 1963, Steve Knapp returned to Elmira and joined his father in business as general manager of Knapp Awning Co. A year later, he was married to Judith A. Cecil. He soon struck out on his own career path, becoming manager of the academic division of Basic Systems, Inc., in New York City and subsequently in Michigan. He later served as manager of technical planning for Responsive Environments Corp. in New Jersey.

In 1977, the Knapps settled in Dublin, NH, where Steve was self-employed as an independent consultant on social policy, specializing in disability programs. His special expertise led to his appointment as a member of the New Hampshire Developmental Disabilities Council in Concord and as a director of the Monadnock Health and Welfare Council in Keene. Most recently he was a consultant to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore, MD.

Active in community affairs, Steve Knapp served two terms as a town selectman of Dublin and was for nine years a member of its budget committee. A lay reader and choir member of the Dublin Community Church, whose executive committee he had chaired, he was an enthusiastic golfer and fisherman who also enjoyed woodworking.

Stephen F. Knapp died on January 25, 2006, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. In addition to his wife of 41 years, he is survived by a daughter, Michelle L. Knapp.
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Stephen Lawrence House ’65

Stephen Lawrence House ’65, a physician and former surgeon, was born on April 1, 1944, to E. Lawrence House ’36, a professor of anatomy, and the former Grace R. Moore, in Atlanta, GA. Steve House prepared for college at Eastern Military Academy on Long Island, where he edited the school newspaper and became president of his class. He entered Hamilton from Flushing, NY, in 1961. While majoring in biology in preparation for a career in medicine, he took part in dramatics with the Charlatans. He excelled academically and impressed Dean Winton Tolles with both his personality and his intellectual curiosity. Awarded the Benjamin Walworth Arnold Prize Scholarship, he was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1965, with
honors in biology.

Steve House went on to the McGill University School of Medicine in Montreal, where he acquired his M.D. degree in 1969. Later trained in general surgery as a resident at the State University of New York Medical Center at Stony Brook, he served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps from 1975 to 1977, including assignments aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Oriskany (recently turned into the worlds largest artificial reef off the coast of Florida) and as attending surgeon at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA. Released from the Navy as a lieutenant commander, he completed residencies in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery before establishing his private practice in Quincy, IL, in 1982. At last report in 2003, he had ceased practicing surgery and undergone retraining in family medicine at St. Louis University.

Stephen L. House died on July 12, 2006, at his home in Murphysboro, IL, according to published information. He is survived by his wife, Annette McConnell, whom he had married in 2004. Also surviving are his mother, several children by previous marriages, and his brother, David A. House.
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Noel Rasmussen ’66

Noel Rasmussen ’66, a dentist who practiced on Long Island, was born on December 25, 1944, in New York City. The younger son of Wilfred C., a civil engineer, and Marion Michel Rasmussen, an elementary school teacher, Noel Rasmussen grew up in West Hempstead on Long Island, where he was graduated in 1962 from West Hempstead High School. That year, he followed his brother Paul to College Hill. He joined Chi Psi, took part in varsity debate and intramural sports, and became a member of the track team. Majoring in biology and intending to pursue a career in dentistry, he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine following his graduation in 1966.

Noel Rasmussen, who was awarded his D.M.D. degree in 1970, practiced dentistry briefly in Bronxville, NY, before being called into military service. Assigned to the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Da Nang, he served in Vietnam as a captain in the U.S. Army Dental Corps and was awarded the Bronze Star. Released in 1973 after two years in uniform, he resumed his dental practice in various New York State locales, including Niskayuna, Rome, and, most recently, Massapequa.

An avid swimmer and member of the Aqua Fit Masters Swim Club, Noel Rasmussen was also an enthusiastic triathlete who competed in numerous triathlons throughout the country. Fondly recalled by family and friends for his sense of humor, he continued to be physically active as a swimmer and runner until virtually the end of his life.

Noel Rasmussen, a faithful alumnus, was residing in West Hempstead when he died on February 2, 2006, shortly after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. In addition to his brother, Paul T. Rasmussen ’62, he is survived by a nephew and three nieces, including Ann Rasmussen Fontanals ’89 and Alicia Rasmussen Weiner ’98.
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Charles Francis Perry ’68

Charles Francis Perry ’68, a lawyer and assistant attorney general for the State of Louisiana, was born on April 20, 1946, in Worcester, MA. A son of Charles E., employed by the New England Telephone & Telegraph Co., and Louise Reilly Perry, he prepared for college at Berkshire School in Massachusetts, where he captained the varsity hockey team and was elected senior class president. “Chuck” Perry came to Hamilton from Woburn, MA, in 1964, joined Theta Delta Chi, and went out for hockey. He soon became “a core and cherished member” of the varsity team, which, in the words of classmate and teammate Bill Semple, had “created a singular bond during the days we bounced around in the back of tired old buses… winning and losing against foes unearthed in the hinterlands of upper New York State.” Loving life and playing hard, Chuck is remembered as personifying the ideal teammate.

Primarily defeated by Hamilton’s then language requirement, Chuck Perry left the College in 1966 and joined the U.S. Air Force that spring. During his four years of military service he was ironically assigned to a Russian language program at Indiana University, which he completed with a B average. Discharged as a sergeant, he contemplated returning to Hamilton. However, he had been married since 1967 to the former Janet M. Farlow, whom he had met when she was a student at Indiana, and he was not certain that an older family man would fit in on the Hill at that time. Also with the greater likelihood of his language credits being accepted at Indiana, he decided to return to Bloomington to complete his undergraduate studies. He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1971.

Charles F. Perry remained at Indiana to enroll in the University’s School of Law. After obtaining his J.D. degree in 1974, he began his general law practice in Paoli, south of Bloomington. He continued to practice in Paoli until his move a few years ago to Louisiana. A resident of the Baton Rouge suburb of Port Allen, he died on July 25, 2006. According to information received by the College, he was at his desk in the attorney general’s office in Baton Rouge when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He is survived by a son, Charles Farlow Perry; two daughters, Rebecca and Katherine Perry; and two brothers, James L. ’69 and Robert Perry. He was an uncle of Charles D. Perry ’93.
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Peter Warner Van Alstine ’69

Peter Warner Van Alstine ’69, a theoretical physicist, was born on June 27, 1947, in Washington, DC. The elder son of Ralph E. ’36 and Nancy Warner Van Alstine, he early developed an interest in science while assisting his father, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, during summers in the Colorado Rockies. He came to Hamilton in 1965, following his graduation from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, MD, and joined Delta Phi. A trumpet player, he also became a member of the College Band. Majoring in physics, he excelled academically, winning the Oren Root and Edward Huntington Prize Scholarships and the Tompkins Prize, all in mathematics, as well as the Benjamin W. Arnold Prize Scholarship. An Eagle Scout, he spent his summer vacations as a geology counselor at the Phil¬mont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

After his graduation Phi Beta Kappa and with honors in physics in 1969, Peter Van Alstine went on to Yale University, where he earned a master’s degree in 1971 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1976. A series of teaching stints followed, at the University of Nebraska, Vanderbilt University, Indiana University, and Colgate University. In 1985, he left academe to move to California, where he became a senior physicist with the Pacific-Sierra Research Corp. in Los Angeles. A co-author of more than 30 papers published in scientific journals, he had been employed by the Northrop Grumman Corp., chiefly working on advances in stealth aircraft, since 1990.

Peter W. Van Alstine, a resident of Moorpark, CA, died on February 24, 2006, of liver failure, at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. In addition to his mother and his wife of 23 years, Robin Chandler Van Alstine, he is survived by two daughters, Lynn and Laura Van Alstine, and a brother and two sisters.
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