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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

In Memoriam: Summer 2020

Ralph Crump ’66a
— 1923-2020 —
Tireless Entrepreneur

Longtime Thayer Board member Ralph Crump invented technologies that transformed everything from the processes of removing cataracts and purifying water to the development of bar coding and 3-D printing. He secured a dozen patents through the various companies he founded with his wife of 66 years, Marjorie, and was a strong supporter of Thayer School.

Crump, who died March 16 at age 96, launched the field of cryosurgery in 1962 when he founded his first company, Frigitronics, in Trumbull, Conn. He invented a tiny refrigerator that was, for 16 years, the state-of-the-art technology for cataract removal. Frigitronics also invented a soft contact lens originally intended as a drug delivery device that proved so comfortable that it became a consumer product known as the SoftCon lens. In the 1960s he began helping to guide Thayer’s entrepreneurial activities when tapped by his former teacher and colleague at UCLA, Dean Myron Tribus. Crump cofounded Osmonics Inc., a manufacturer of reverse osmosis equipment whose basic membrane technology was developed under Dean Tribus by former student Dean Spatz ’66 Th’67 Th’68. He was an avid supporter of the work Professor John Collier ’72 Th’75 Th’77 was doing on orthopedic implants, as well as the cornea research of grad student Stuart Trembly Th’83. A meeting with Crump prompted Trembly, now a Thayer professor, to start Avedro, which offers a less-invasive alternative to Lasik. 

He served on the Thayer Board for 24 years and earned the school’s highest honor, the Robert Fletcher Award, in 1979. “Ralph was a deep thinker, action-oriented, a person from whom you sought counsel—and a friend of all of us and Thayer,” says Barry MacLean ’60 Th’61, a member of Thayer’s board of advisors. Board member Charles Nearburg ’72 Th’73 Th’74 adds, “Ralph was sharper his last day than I was on my best day, and a lot nicer to boot.”

He was predeceased in 2014 by Marjorie, and is survived by his children, Connye, Scott, and Craig and their families.  

Foxhall Parker ’48 Th’49
— 1925-2019 —
Biomedical Pioneer

Bioengineering was a new term when “Foxy” Parker went to work at his father’s surgical instrument manufacturing company, Bard-Parker (later Becton Dickinson). It was in the Danbury, Conn.-based facility that the mechanical engineering major learned how new technologies—and the engineering to develop them—could be used to advance medicine.

Parker, who died on December 28, 2019, at age 94, spent much of his life supporting projects at Thayer School and Dartmouth Medical School that used engineering and creativity to solve healthcare challenges. Upon his father’s death, he established the Morgan Parker Memorial Fellowship for scholars applying engineering to the needs of the medical profession. In recognition, he was named a Sylvanus Thayer Fellow in 1979 and he received the Heritage Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. He was active with the Dartmouth Society of Engineers and the College’s Magnusen Center for Entrepreneurship.

Parker grew up in Katonah, N.Y., on property that is now the Bedford Audubon Society’s Bylane Farm. There he learned to ski, hike, and skate—interests he continued to pursue at Dartmouth as a member of Cabin & Trail and the Outing Club. Another great passion was flying, and he entered the Navy after high school to become a pilot. He was initially sent to Hanover as part of the Navy V-12 program. Although he never saw combat with the VS-835 squadron, he learned to pilot everything from a Steerman trainer to the Corsair fighters that became his specialty. While stationed in Pensacola, Fla., he performed nighttime aircraft carrier takeoffs and landings above the rough seas of Guantanamo Bay and practiced dogfight duels and precision maneuvers. Parker remained with the Naval Reserve as he returned to civilian life in 1946, initially working at Grumman Aircraft before returning to Hanover to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Parker is survived by Helen, his wife of 67 years, and daughters Patricia ’82 and Mary.

—Theresa D'Orsi

Tags: alumni, in memoriam, obituaries

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