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Freshmen beware. While the College might not have issued that warning, it certainly was the attitude of the Calumet Club 80 years ago. Those in the “honorary sophomore society” believed it was their duty to “subdue and train the playful freshman.”

While the Calumet Club and other groups from Lafayette’s past have disappeared over the years, some things have remained familiar.

In the senior year of Frederick W. Light Jr. ’26, for example, a new football stadium was the buzz on campus.

In fact, the 1926 edition of Melange is brimming with details and descriptions of the new playing field and stadium that was built in the exact spot where Fisher Field at Fisher Stadium stands today. It was projected that upon completion, the stadium would seat 40,000 people and, in addition to the gridiron, would contain a baseball diamond and a quarter-mile running track with a 220-yard straightaway.

While he wasn’t a member of the football team, Light, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Sept. 13, 2006, participated in many other activities during his time at Lafayette.

A chemistry graduate, he was a member of many clubs and societies on campus, including Sphinx Club, Gayley Chemical Society, Radio Club, College Band, Instrumental Club, Freshman Players, Shakespeare Club, and Y.M.C.A. Council. He also was awarded the Barge Mathematical Prize and Astronomical Prize.

During Light’s time at Lafayette, one professor in particular left an impression on him.

“My most outstanding professor was Dr. [Eugene] Bingham, who headed the chemistry department,” says Light, who now lives in Jonestown, Pa.

His youngest brother, John M. Light ’41, always remembers Frederick as having an interest in science.

“He has always been interested in nearly all branches of science, and continues to be well versed in most of them,” says John. “He built his own homemade radio in the early 1920s, when I was barely old enough to appreciate what he had done.”

All three Light brothers graduated from Lafayette. Asaph S. Light ’36 passed away in 1999.

Melange editors in the 1926 edition describe Light as never hesitating “to do what he thinks is best, regardless of conventionalities, and he is to be admired for it.”

Light went on to earn an M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1930. He was a resident in pathology at Reading Hospital in 1933 and, until 1940, worked as a pathologist in Clarksburg, W.Va., and Springfield, Ill. He married Rose Altschaffl, a union lasting for over 50 years until her death.

In 1940, he went back to Johns Hopkins and received his Ph.D. and, in 1951, began working at Edgewood Arsenal, a chemical weapons research, development, and testing facility. He was chief of the Wound Assessment Branch and assistant chief of the Biophysics Division. During this time, Light testified in the investigation by the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Though he retired from Edgewood in 1966, Light is still a member of various scientific societies and subscribes to numerous scientific and professional journals, which he likes to discuss at length.

Unlike the Calumet Club, Junior Browse, Pajama Parade, and Shoe Rush, 81 years after Light graduated, there are some traditions that still remain; the football stadium he remembers was formally dedicated on Nov. 20, 1926, “when the Maroon team of Lafayette again meets its traditional rival, Lehigh.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles