Posted on Nov 18, 2008


Peter C. Van Dyck ’38 

Life Trustee Peter C. Van Dyck ’38, of Bolton Landing, N.Y., a U.S. Army veteran, former General Electric vice president and active Union volunteer died Aug. 14, 2008. He was 91.

Van Dyck, who attended both Union and Amherst College, earned his degree from the latter.

Van Dyck began his career at GE’s credit corporation before taking leave to serve in World War II, in the Pacific Theatre, with the U.S. Army Air Corps engineers.

After returning from the war, Van Dyck worked as a GE auditor, finance manager and business training instructor before being appointed general manager in 1961. He was named vice president of the Appartus Service Division in 1971 and by the late 1970s saw the division grow to 175 service shops in 17 countries that employed 7,000 skilled workers.

During his 30-year career at GE, Van Dyck was a resident of Scotia and Schenectady. He served as a term trustee at Union from 1978 to 1988. He was named a life trustee in 1988, and trustee emeritus a year later. He was active on the Terrace Council and Friends of Union Athletics. He was also a committee member for Union’s national campaign in the 1980s.

He and his wife, Caroline Kreuger Van Dyck, have four children.

Union relatives include a great-grandfather, Cornelius L. Van Dyck, Class of 1826; two brothers, David Van Dyck ’44, and Richard Van Dyck ’50; and a granddaughter, Sydnie Wells ’07.  


Donald W. Male ’43

Donald W. Male ’43, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who worked as an aerospace scientist for three decades before becoming a Unitarian minister in 1976, died Aug. 14, 2008. He was 86.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Union, Male was recruited by the Cleveland branch of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, now NASA. While there he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Case Western Reserve University.

Beginning in 1952, Male spent a year as an advisor at the Pentagon before moving on to the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering and Development Center in Tennessee, where he served as chief of the plans division. The U.S. Air Force selected him as a fellow at the Sloane School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received an MBA in 1958.

Male decided to take early retirement from the Air Force, enrolled in Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and in 1976 received doctoral degree in ministry. He was ordained as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tullahoma, Tenn. and was granted minister emeritus when he retired. He was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association and served in this position for 10 years, the last two years as secretary.

His hobbies included canoeing and astronomy. He founded and was president of the Middle Tennessee Astronomical Society and led workshops across the Southeast.

Don Male came from a family with deep ties to the College. His father, Charles Sr., graduated from Union in 1913 and then taught surveying and engineering mathematics until 1954, when he founded an upstate New York surveying firm. Brother Charles T. “Tom” Male Jr. ’36 was a professor of civil engineering, and brothers William J. Male ’38, Theodore Male ’43 and Kenneth Male ’45 are also graduates.

Don Male, who was president of the Class of 1943, wrote on a ReUnion questionnaire in 1982: “Union provided me a high standard of education in the fundamentals and basics of science and technology, which even to this day has given me a clear advantage over most of my peers.”

He is survived by his wife Sue Anderson Male, of Murfreesboro; three daughters: Sherry Male, of Nashville; Peggy Lenny, of Tampa, Fla., Connie McCormick, McMinnville, Tenn., two step children: Jennifer Nourse, Richmond, Va.; Carl E.P. Williams, of Moore, S.C.; sister Janette Burger; and brother Kenneth J. Male of Niskayuna, N.Y.


Professor William M. Murphy

William M. Murphy, the Thomas Lamont Research Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, celebrated author and political insider, died Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady. He was 92.

A teacher who considered Gulliver’s Travels the greatest book ever written and a scholar who won prominence as biographer of the family of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, Murphy taught in Union’s English department from 1946 until his retirement in 1983. He became the Thomas Lamont Professor in 1978 and received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award from the Alumni Council in 1983.

In 1978 he published Prodigal Father: The Life of John Butler Yeats, which the next year was one of five finalists for the National Book Award for a biography. He later published a companion book, Family Secrets: William Butler Yeats and His Relatives, which The New York Times described as one of the finest biographies of the Yeats family.

He had a lifelong passion for politics, and as a close friend of U.S. Rep. Samuel S. Stratton, himself a former Union philosophy professor, Murphy shared his colleague’s passion for politics, intellectual discourse and adventure.

Murphy made unsuccessful runs for Congress in 1948, state Senate in 1956, and state Assembly in 1959. He was appointed by Stratton in 1956 to fill an unexpired term on the Schenectady County Board of Supervisors. He was a member and chairman of the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority, which, with Stratton, had instituted a policy of desegregation in the city’s public housing. Murphy memoriamserved on the New York State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He was part of the mayor’s “kitchen cabinet,” and later, a part- time staffer in the Congressman’s Schenectady and Washington offices.

Murphy was born Aug. 6, 1916 in Queens, N.Y. and raised in Flushing, N.Y. He would go on to study at Harvard University, earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees there. He taught for three years at Harvard, then served another three years as secretary of Harvard’s Committee on Educational Relations. He served in the U.S. Navy for three years, specializing in anti- submarine warfare, before he joined Union College.

He married the former Harriet Doane on Sept. 2, 1939. For more than 60 years, they spent their summers at their home in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia. Survivors also include a son, Christopher; and daughters, Deborah Chase Murphy and Susan Doane Murphy Thompson.

The family is planning a memorial service in the spring.


Professor Charles Dana Swartz

Charles Dana Swartz, the Frank and Marie Louise Bailey Professor of Physics Emeritus, died Aug. 28, 2008. He was 93.

He taught at Union from 1956 until his retirement in 1979.

He lived a full life that encompassed a range of interests and rich experiences. The youngest of five brothers, he was born in Baltimore in 1915 to Charles and Elizabeth Swartz. He remained in Baltimore through his education at Johns Hopkins University, earning a doctorate in physics in 1943. He worked on the Manhattan Project before embarking on a long career in academia.

He married Katherine Hunt Swartz in 1949. After beginning a family in Baltimore, they moved in 1956 to Schenectady and Union College. His tenure was punctuated by sabbaticals at Ankara University (Turkey), Oxford University (England) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.). He also taught summer courses to science teachers in India in 1965 and 1968.

The child of a geology professor, he developed at an early age the curiosity and careful observation he would always rely on and encourage in others. He was a lifelong learner, largely self-taught in photography, botany, gardening, sailing, investing and many other fields. He could make or fix most anything. He was a voracious reader, avid traveler and could speak with authority on many topics. He was a formidable foe in any game that involved words.

Three years into their marriage, Kay contracted polio. Undaunted by her resulting disability, the couple developed into a resilient and self-sufficient team, allowing them to maintain their active, independent, adventurous lifestyle. They raised three children, traveled internationally and vacationed every summer at their beloved, rustic family camp on Kinneho Island, N.H. Their shared life was an inspiring example right up until Kay’s death in 2007.

Survivors include three children, Timothy (Merry Shernock) of Northfield Falls, Vt.; Douglas (Karen Spencer) of Fort Collins, Colo.; and Christina (Mike O’Brien) of Boise, Idaho.

Memorial contributions may be made to American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St, Philadelphia, Pa. 19102; or Planned Parenthood, 1040 State St., Schenectady, N.Y. 12305