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

Obituaries: Summer 2020

Henry Chapman Keck ’43 Tu’44 Th’44 died in Pasadena, Calif., on April 4 from a heart attack. His designs are ubiquitous in American life: the bright-yellow hazard lights flashing along construction sites, the soap dispensers and hand dryers found in many restrooms, the glass sugar and syrup dispensers on virtually every diner tabletop. After completing the Tuck-Thayer program, Keck served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and earned a master’s in engineering and industrial design from Caltech. In 1951, Keck founded the industrial design firm of Keck-Craig, which emphasized meticulous engineering along with appearance in more than 1,700 products. He lectured on project design and development at Dartmouth, the University of Southern California, and the Art Center College of Design, and shared insights in his 2012 book, How Design Changed America: An Historical Memoir. He is survived by his friend, Martha, and several nieces and nephews.

John F. Shearer ’44 Th’44 died November 16, 2019, at his home in Naples, Fla. Jack was raised in Burlington, Vt., and attended high school there. At Dartmouth, he was involved in football and skiing, was a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and participated in the Marine Corps V-12 program. Upon graduation from Thayer, Jack served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific theater during World War II. He then returned to Burlington to spend most of his working career as co-owner of Shearer Chevrolet. Boating and skiing were among his favorite pastimes. He is survived by his wife, Dianne; children Caryl, Janet, and Mark ’72; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Charles Terence Quinn ’47 Th’47, O.P., who served the Catholic Church as a priest for more than 60 years, died on November 7, 2019, in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. In May 1943 he enlisted in the Navy, was commissioned as an ensign, and earned a BS in civil engineering from Thayer School in the V-12 program. He then served in the Caribbean before being honorably discharged in June 1947. He entered the Dominican novitiate in 1948 and was ordained a priest in 1955. He joined a mission in Pakistan in 1957 and ministered there for 15 years; in 1988 he began a three-year mission in the Solomon Islands. He also served as pastor of various parishes, including at Holy Innocents Parish in Pleasantville, N.Y., where he was also superior of the Dominican community. He was predeceased by siblings John, Maua, and Eileen.

Frederick T. Comstock Jr. ’48 Th’48 died on December 16, 2019, in Exeter, N.H. He attended the Newark College of Engineering, joined the Marine Corps, and served in World War II with an engineering demolition unit. Tad then attended Thayer School and in 1951 received a Navy ensign commission in the Civil Engineering Corps. Career highlights included overseeing bridge design and construction with the N.H. Department of Public Works and Highways and structural design with Anderson Nichols & Co. and almost 30 years as an engineer and administrator with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). He earned the FHWA’s Bronze Medal Award for Superior Achievement, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Silver Medal Award for Meritorious Achievement, and the N.H. Engineer of the Year Award. He is survived by his wife, Georgette, seven children, and 11 grandchildren.

Robert D. Eckerson ’48 Th’49 died on January 27, 2019, in Durham, N.H. An early interest in airplanes led him to enlist at 17 in the Navy, where he learned to fly a Stearman biplane. When the war ended, Bob used the GI Bill to earn a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering at Dartmouth. Bob’s career took the family from Buffalo and Long Island, N.Y., to Connecticut and Merrimack, N.H. He worked as an engineer for several companies, including Sperry Gyroscope and Rockwell/Boeing. Bob was predeceased by his wife of 66 years, Arlene. He is survived by children  Lynn and Daniel and their families.

Hsung-Cheng Hsieh ’54 Th’55 passed away on December 2, 2019, in Ames, Iowa, due to complications from a stroke. Born in Taiwan, Cheng studied at the University of Tokyo until 1951, when he received a scholarship to attend Dartmouth. He earned an AB with high distinction in mathematics and then took engineering courses at Thayer School before pursuing an MS in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley. His career was devoted to teaching and research at Wichita State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Michigan. In 1968 he moved to Iowa State, where he taught in the electrical engineering department and did research in plasma physics, semiconductor and photonic devices, and the area of lightwave technology. He is survived by his wife, Janet, daughter Hilda, and granddaughter Zoe.

Robert Newell Oxford Jr. ’54 Th’55 died on December 7, 2019, at the N.H. Veterans Home in Tilton. At Dartmouth, he was a member of Chi Phi, the rifle team, and the Army ROTC and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Thayer School. Bob served as a lieutenant in the Army, teaching in the ordinance school at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Bob then worked at Raytheon as an administrator negotiating government contracts. He retired in 1974 and joined his wife, Allison, in ownership of Impressions Pottery by Oxford. Bob enjoyed many years at the family camp on Rattlesnake Island in Lovell, Maine, where he fished in his Boston Whaler and Old Town canoe. He was predeceased by Allison in 1990. Bob is survived by children Robert, Douglas, and Allison.

Thomas W. Hayden ’57 Tu’58 Th’58 of Naples, Fla., passed away on June 8, 2019. At Dartmouth, he majored in engineering sciences and accounting, was active in the Canoe Club and ROTC, and completed the combined Tuck-Thayer program in 1958. After marriage to Dory in 1961, he worked at C.W. Hayden Co., an Auburn, Maine-based manufacturer of industrial, marine, and safety supplies. In 1969 Tom joined his father and brother in the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) Co. distributorship. For 31 years he represented the company, driving about 35,000 miles a year, usually with a shotgun and fly rod in the car. Tom served Dartmouth as club secretary and class agent. Tom is survived by Dory and children Stephen and Lisa.

Frank Joseph Killilea Jr. ’60 Th’63 of Wilmington, Ma., died on November 20, 2019. At Dartmouth, he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi and the Newman Club, rowed two years on the heavyweight crew, and earned a civil engineering degree from Thayer School. Frank specialized in environmental engineering and worked 30 years with Metcalf & Eddy. He finished his career with the City of Beverly, Massachusetts, serving as the director of engineering and on the Salem-Beverly water supply board for more than 11 years. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, New England Water Works Association, and the Boston Society of Engineers. He is survived by Katherine, his wife of 50 years; children Susan, Steven, and Thomas; and five grandchildren. 

Michael L. Bisceglia ’63 Th’64 died November 2, 2019, at his home in Rye, N.Y., of Alzheimer’s. At Dartmouth, Mike earned an AB in environmental science and an MS in civil engineering. He played football and was a brother of Phi Gamma Delta. After graduation, Mike worked for Turner Construction and then with his brothers formed Bisceglia Brothers, which was responsible for the development of many municipal buildings in Westchester County, N.Y. He was an active member of his community and served as president and member of the board of education of the Harrison School District. He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou; children Patrick, Teresa, Michael, and Brett; five grandchildren; and his former wife, Elaine.

Melvin M. Shiramizu ’63 Th’65 died on January 22 in Lakewood, Colo., of multiple system atrophy. Melvin was born in February 1942 after his father was drafted and sent to Europe. Shortly thereafter Melvin and his remaining family were forced to evacuate from Salinas, California, to an internment camp in the Arizona desert. His father was killed in Italy. After the war Melvin and his mother and sister relocated to Denver, where Melvin grew up. He attended Manual High School, graduating cum laude, and attended Boys’ State. He graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a brother of Phi Tau, and took courses at Thayer School through 1965. Melvin went on to pursue a successful career as a computer manufacturing engineer with StorageTek Corp. 

G. Jeffrey Ashworth ’71 Th’72 died of cancer at his home in Quincy, Mass., on December 7, 2019. At Dartmouth, he was a member of Phi Sigma Psi and earned an AB in engineering sciences and a BE concentrated in structural engineering at Thayer School. Jeff spent most of his career with Stone & Webster Engineering Corp. in Boston, working on structural and civil aspects of major industrial facilities, primarily electric generation stations, including nuclear, hydroelectric, and fossil-fueled plants. For two years he was the New England regional manager for Vollmer Associates, an engineering firm specializing in engineering and landscape architecture. Jeff is survived by his wife of 45 years, Bonnie, daughters Maryann and Elizabeth and their families.

Darrel R. Gavle ’71 Th’72, the former president and CEO Baxter & Woodman Engineering, died on January 23. At Dartmouth, he earned his BS in civil engineering and was a member of Sphinx, Kappa Sigma, and the 1970 undefeated Ivy League championship football team. He moved to Crystal Lake, Ill., immediately after college and spent his career at Baxter & Woodman, retiring in 2009. Outside of work, Darrel loved to hunt, fish, play golf, and watch and participate in various sports. He served on the Crystal Lake library board for more than 20 years, the Library Foundation board, and the Crystal Lake planning and zoning board. He is survived by his wife, Susan, children Dave and Katie and their spouses, and two grandchildren.

Categories: Alumni News, Obituaries

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