Teaching veteran Raymond Thorpe dies
By Bill Steele
Raymond G. Thorpe, professor emeritus of chemical engineering, ended 39 years of teaching and advising at Cornell when he passed away Sept. 6 at his home in Cortland, after a short bout with cancer. He was 84, but still active in the school and community.
Born in Utica, N.Y., Thorpe received his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1942. After serving in the Navy for four years during WWII, he earned his M.S. degree at Cornell, worked briefly for Monsanto Corp. and returned to Cornell in 1949 as an instructor, joining the faculty of what was then the School of Metalurgical and Chemical Engineering in 1951.
He continued to teach for 39 years, earning praise from his students and twice receiving the Cornell Society of Engineers and Tau Beta Pi Excellence in Teaching Award. In 1982 he was designated Master Teacher by the faculty of the School of Chemical Engineering to represent the school at the Cornell Center for Improvement of Undergraduate Education. He also was the first Cornell professor to be named by four Cornell presidential scholars as the teacher who most influenced their academic careers.
After a period of retirement Thorpe again returned to the campus and until the time of his death worked in the College of Engineering Advising Services office.
In 1989 Thorpe's alumni friends established the Raymond G. Thorpe Fund, which brings to campus an alumnus working in industry who typifies exceptional professional progress and service to the Cornell community for a lecture and meetings with students and faculty.
Thorpe also served the Cortland community over almost 50 years as a member of the Cortlandville Zoning Board of Appeals, the City of Cortland Board of Education and the Cortlandville Town Board. He was Cortlandville town supervisor for the 13 years prior to his death. He is survived by his son, Mark, daughter-in-law, EvaMarie Suntum, and grandsons Garrett and Wyatt of Sterling, Va.; daughter Kimberly Thorpe and son-in-law Lt. Col. Donald F. Knight of Swansea, Ill.; nephews and nieces Douglas Boone of West Winfield, N.Y., Susan Boone of Chicago, Sherry Boone of Cortland and Scott Boone of N. Chili, N.Y., and his loving and constant companion, Mrs. Valeria (Babe) Gilbert of Cicero, N.Y.
A memorial service will be held Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. in Sage Chapel. Memorial contributions can be sent to Caring Community Hospice Services of Cortland, 11 Kennedy Parkway, Cortland, NY 13045, or to the Raymond G. Thorpe Fund, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 120 Olin Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.