The William P. Schweitzer Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University, died Nov. 24, 2012, at age 74. He was a member of Delta Sigma, and he received his degree with high honors and with distinction in chemistry. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa and to Sigma Xi, he received his PhD from the California Institute of Technology. He had been on the faculty at Columbia University since 1964. He also held professorships at the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering.

Widely recognized nationally and internationally as a leader and pioneer in the area of supramolecular chemistry, organic photochemistry, molecular spectroscopy, host-guest chemistry, and magnetic effects on photochemical reactions, he was the author of two textbooks, one of which is considered the “bible” of the field, and numerous articles.

Posthumously, he received the Inaugural George S. Hammond Award of the Inter-American Photochemical Society, given in recognition of the breadth and depth of his many crucial contributions to the photochemical sciences and his singular impact on worldwide dissemination of photochemical knowledge through his many collaborations and his pioneering textbooks. Among those who survive are his wife, Sandra Misenti Turro, two daughters, five grandchildren, and two sisters.


WILLIAM V. TRIPP III, a tax and estate attorney, died Nov. 7, 2009, at age 71. He was a member of Eclectic and was the son of William V. Tripp Jr. of the class of 1924. He served in the U.S. Navy for four years, after which he enrolled at Cornell University, where he received his MBA and law degrees. Most recently associated with Nixon Peabody, he served on numerous charitable boards. Among those who survive are his wife, Roberta Allen Tripp, two children, four grandchildren, and three siblings.


EDWARD A. SORENSEN, M.D., a psychiatrist in the Albany, N.Y., area for 40 years, died Mar. 1, 2006. He was 68. A member of Chi Psi, he received his medical degree from Albany Medical College and served in the U.S. Army. He was a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Among those who survive are his wife, Linda Bowen Sorensen, three children, five grandchildren, a brother, and two sisters.


BERTOLD K.G. PUCHTLER, 71, who worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Alaska Area Native Health Service for more than 25 years, died Apr. 18, 2008. A member of Alpha Delta Phi, he received his degree with honors. After receiving a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, he was part of the first Peace Corps group in Nepal. He then worked for U.S.A.I.D. in Laos before moving to Alaska. At age 67 he became a certified snowboard instructor. Survivors include two sons, a grandson, a brother, and his former wife, Catherine Short.


JOHN W. ENGROFF JR., the executive director of the Franklin-Grand Isle (Vermont) Community Partnership and an educator, died July 4, 2008, at age 69. He was a member of the Commons Club, received a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He had also been associated with several educational and social service institutions in northern Vermont. Among those who survive are his wife, Audrey Reinehr Engroff, two children, a granddaughter, a brother, and a sister.


H. RICHARD DIETRICH JR., a philanthropist and well-known collector of early American decorative and fine arts, died Aug. 30, 2007, at age 69. A member of Psi Upsilon, he attended Columbia University’s business school until he was called home to run the family business when his father died. From 1974 to 1980 he was a member of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees. President of the Dietrich Corporation, a conglomerate that was sold to the Hershey Company in 1986, he then retired and devoted himself to philanthropy, conservation, and collecting high-quality objects both for the Dietrich American Foundation and for private use. Works from the foundation’s collection have been lent to more than 50 institutions, making them available to the public. He was particularly active with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and served as board chairman there for 35 years; the museum’s curatorship of American decorative arts is named in his honor. Survivors include two sons, a daughter, a granddaughter, two brothers, and his former wife, Cordelia Frances Biddle. (See further information in the New York Times of 9/10/07.)


RICHARD M. ARMSTRONG, 72, the president of Armstrong Engineering Associates and the former chair of both the boards of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and of Chester County (Pa.) Hospital, died May 9, 2010. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon and received a master’s degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His company, founded by his father, designs and makes heat–transfer equipment for the chemical and oil–refining industry. He was an advocate of open land and he served on several boards in addition to his hospital commitments. Survivors include his wife, Susan Dole Armstrong, three children, seven grandchildren, and a brother.


KENNETH C. ALLEN, 73, a builder who rehabilitated houses on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., died Oct. 18, 2011. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon and received his law degree from the University of Virginia. After serving in the U.S. Navy for six years, he returned to the Washington, D.C., area and went into the building business. He was president of Walden Construction, but had been disabled since brain surgery in 1985. Survivors include his wife, Beverly Jones Allen, a stepson, and a brother.


Gus Napier ’60 writes about his friend, James Alexander, Jr. ’60.

I vividly remember meeting Jim at Alpha Chi Rho, this big guy from the Bronx–tall, with a deep, booming voice that seemed to reverberate down into his very long legs; he had a crew cut and a steady, confident smile. Jim seemed inveterately friendly, full of energy and talk, and with a flair for the dramatic. He reached out to this shy kid from southern Georgia and he impressed him–among other ways–with his story of seeing man get caught halfway into a New York subway door just as the train was pulling out, and yanking the man free. The story makes a good metaphor for Jim: the rescuer, the giver; and the dramatist.

At Wesleyan Jim majored in religion, with minors in Spanish and biology. He was a swimmer, a member of Cardinal Key, and on the Freshman Orientation Committee. Joining after the initial pledge period, he was an enthusiastic member of AXP/EQV.

After graduating from Wesleyan in 1960, Jim went to medical school for a year (the rescuer), but his love of Theater (capital T) proved stronger, and he left to chase this dream. Singer, dancer and actor, he performed with Carol Burnett on the Garry Moore Show. For a couple of years he announced all the commercials for the Masters Golf Tournament, as well as doing numerous voice-over commercial spots. He also acted in soaps, including As the World Turns, and Days of Our Lives. He modeled in clothing, automobile, and cigarette advertisements, and appeared in Life magazine four times. He even appeared in a Frankenstein advertisement with Boris Karloff. Jim’s success in these public ventures got him invited twice to the White House for dinner–by Presidents Kennedy and Ford.

Running parallel with this theatrical side of Jim there was the giver and the helper. In 1962, while working as Assistant Director of Admissions/Recruiting at New York University, Jim wrote a proposal for a counseling department “model” that included the role of college consultant. The head of the counseling program at Highland Park High School (in Highland Park, Illinois) saw this proposal, and hired Jim to implement it. There, Jim created the oldest counseling resource center in the country, a center that helped students not only with college planning but with career planning and with the larger issues of the post-high school world.

In his 34 years at Highland Park, Jim was wellspring of energy and creativity. He created a system in which students saw one counselor for all four years; he was deeply committed to providing equal access to counseling for all students, including minority students and those with learning disabilities; he pioneered the use of the computer in providing college and career information and referral. He visited countless colleges, made hundreds of speeches, consulted widely, and was a tireless advocate for Highland Park and its students. Jim worked with students’ families in doing long-term educational financial planning. He also tried to bring a healthy “reality dose” to the counseling process. Jim believed that his varied experiences allowed him represent the larger world more accurately to students.

In his “spare time,” Jim coached the water polo team which he founded at Highland Park.

Jim’s innovative approaches to high school counseling brought him national recognition: he was active in the Illinois Association of College Admissions Counselors, which has created an award in his name; and he served as president of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors. He received a number of other citations and awards. The center Jim helped create at Highland Park is now named for him.

Jim was full of life, and he led a full life. He and Gita–the former Margareta Jarnstedt, who worked as an interior designer–had two children, James and Caryn. Jim was extremely devoted to and proud of his family. He and Gita also bought and renovated and sold real estate; collected antiques (the couple owned and ran a small antiques business in Illinois). Jim painted (in oils), loved music, antiques, travel, his friends, his family.

In 2000, Jim and Gita retired to Hendersonville, N.C., which is also near the renowned Flat Rock Playhouse. The last time I saw Jim (I live in nearby Brevard) was at a party he and Gita gave to celebrate the expansion and renovation of their house. Jim knew he was very ill; he couldn’t wait to show the unfinished project to his friends. He led us around the house, his expansive gestures filling in their dreams of new rooms, new surfaces, new spaces. He talked the whole time; you could hear his booming voice all over the house.

Jim died on December 19, 2004, of leukemia. I am only one of a huge number of people who miss him.