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The faculty adopted memorial resolutions for Jacob Ernest Cooke II, John Henry MacCracken Professor Emeritus of History, who died March 6, and Leon J. McGeady, and Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Metallurgical Engineering and former Director of Engineering, who died January 28.

Jacob E. Cooke circa 1964, courtesy of Digitized Historical Photograph Collection, Lafayette Archives

Jacob Ernest Cooke II, the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History Emeritus at Lafayette College, died March 6, 2011, in Hanover, N.H., at the age of 86.

Born on September 23, 1924, in Aulander, N.C., Ernie Cooke attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His undergraduate education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, during which he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1941 to 1945. At the end of the war, he resumed his education at UNC, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1947. Professor Cooke did his graduate work at Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1956. He taught at Columbia from 1953 to 1961 and was a professor and department head at the Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1961 to 1962.

In 1962, Professor Cooke joined the Lafayette faculty as the first John Henry MacCracken Professor of History. The MacCracken chair was established in honor of John Henry MacCracken, who was president of Lafayette from 1915 to 1926.

Ernie Cooke taught at Lafayette College for 27 years before retiring in 1990. He had a wide, inquiring mind, read literature avidly in his free time, and was an opera buff, regularly attending performances at the Metropolitan Opera with a group of colleagues. He was also a passionate tennis player and was known to enjoy a “glass” with his tennis mates after a heated match. He loved life, was a sparking conversationalist, and had a playful sense of humor. The dinner parties he and his gracious wife Jean hosted for friends and colleagues set a Lafayette standard for generosity and bonhomie. In the evenings he liked to relax with a glass of French wine and an Agatha Christie mystery.

Dr. Cooke was a dedicated and rigorous teacher. His courses focused primarily on early American history, U.S. constitutional history, U.S. political history, and psychohistory. He was Head of the History Department from 1983 to 1986. A strong presence on the Lafayette faculty, he served on numerous committees and received the Thomas Roy and Lura Forest Jones Award for Superior Teaching and Scholarly Contributions in 1965 and 1976. In 1988, he was the inaugural recipient of Lafayette’s Mary Louise Van Artsdalen Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement. Despite a heavy publishing schedule, he was always available for his students, and a great number of his advisees went on to graduate studies in history.

Professor Cooke was a nationally recognized historian who wrote and edited outstanding books and articles on U.S. history. He was one of the most dedicated and distinguished scholars in the history of the college. His work focused on the early American Republic, the period from 1780 to 1840. His published works include Alexander Hamilton, Tench Coxe and the Early American Republic, and Frederick Bancroft: Historian. Among his outstanding edited or co-edited collections are the Papers of Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, and Encyclopedia of the American Colonies. He received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center, the Huntington Library, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. In recognition of the literary distinction of his publications, in 1983 he was invited to join the prestigious Society of American Historians.

A gifted teacher and scholar, Jacob Ernest Cooke II was highly esteemed in the History Department, on the Lafayette College campus, and in the professional community of historians.

Mr. President, on behalf of the committee, I move that this Memorial Resolution be filed with the minutes of this meeting and that a copy be sent to Professor Cooke’s wife Jean.

Respectfully submitted,

Deborah A. Rosen, Department Head and Professor of History

Donald L. Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor of History

Robert I. Weiner, Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor of History

* * * * *

Leon McGeady circa 1960, courtesy of Digitized Historical Photograph Collection, Lafayette Archives

Professor Leon G. McGeady joined the Faculty of Lafayette College in 1949 as an Assistant Professor. When he received his Ph.D. degree from Lehigh University in 1950, he became one of the first Lafayette Engineering Faculty members to hold the degree. He had previously received a B.S. degree in 1943 and a M.S. degree in 1946, both from Lehigh.

Leon was an active researcher and scholar; publishing a number of papers and reports in the areas of welding, manufacture, brittle fracture, pressure vessels, and ships and other structures. He was particularly proud of his involvement as part of an investigative team near the end of WWII. Liberty ships had been mysteriously breaking apart suddenly, with fore and aft halves sinking almost immediately. The team found that stress concentration due to large hatch openings with sharp corners cut in the main deck, combined with brittle material behavior due to the intense cold temperatures encountered in the North Atlantic and on the Murmansk run was responsible. Following the team’s recommendation, the corners of the openings were rounded and the problem was solved. Leon continued to serve as a Metallurgical Consultant to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory while at Lafayette, as well as serving as a consultant to numerous industrial organizations.

Leon was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 1953 and to Professor and Head of the Metallurgical Engineering Department in 1957. He was named a Charles A. Dana Professor in 1969. Leon served as Director of Engineering from 1975 to 1986, while continuing to serve as Head of the Metallurgical Engineering Department. Supporting his nomination as Director, it was noted that “Dr. McGeady has a reputation as an excellent teacher and scholar and has long been considered a leader in the Faculty among whom he is highly respected for his wisdom and judgment.” Leon’s service as Acting Provost for a semester in 1980 amply demonstrated his wisdom, judgment, and dedication to the College.

Leon was an enthusiastic, well-respected teacher, teaching heavy course loads despite his administrative duties to meet the needs of the Engineering Division and especially the Metallurgical Engineering Department. He gave the first Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Faculty Lecture in 1960 and received the Jones Award for Superior Teaching in 1968.

Leon and his wife Anne had six children, Thomas J., Mary Lou, Patricia A., Lee J., Anne M., and David G.. They had eighteen grand-children and two great grand-children.

Following his retirement, Leon was twice (1989-90 and 1993-94) called on to serve as Presidential Search Coordinator for the Board of Trustees.

Leon J. McGeady was an outstanding teacher, researcher, administrator, and member of the campus community. He was a caring, conscientious mentor to young faculty members and inexperienced Department Heads. As an inexperienced, untenured Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department, the Chair of this Committee, like many others, benefitted immeasurably from Leon’s sage advice and whole-hearted support.

Mr. President, We move that this memorial for Leon J. McGeady be filed with the minutes of this meeting and that copies be sent to his wife, children, brother, James W. McGeady, and sister, Jeanette Kolb.

David L. Hogenboom, Marshall R. Metzger Professor Emeritus of Physics

B. Vincent Viscomi, Simon Cameron Long Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Leonard A. Van Gulick, Matthew Baird Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Chair

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