Notable Alumni

Elbert P. Tuttle AB ’18, LLB ’22.

“Tut” was one of only seven Cornellians, four of whom were Greek fraternity men to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest civilian honor our country bestows. Considered the “chief jurist of the American civil rights movement”, as the presiding judge of the Federal Court in Atlanta, he rendered or oversaw thousands of decisions between 1954 and the early 1990s that forced the desegregation of the Deep South, thus realizing the ideals for an open society of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Johnson. He also was a founding partner of Sutherland Asbill and Tuttle, was chairman of the Georgia Republican Party that engineered the Republican nomination of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, was a trustee of Cornell, Atlanta University, and Spelman, was awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals in World War II, was a brigadier general in the Army reserves, and the national president of our fraternity. The Federal Courthouse building in Atlanta is named for him.

At Cornell, he was editor in chief of the Cornell Daily Sun, president of the student council, president of his senior class, editor in chief of the Cornell Law Quarterly, editor in chief of the Cornell Alumni News, a member of Sphinx Head, and president of our fraternity.

Malcolm H. Tuttle ME ’18.

Malcolm was Elbert’s older brother. At Cornell, Malcolm was on varsity cross country, Circulation Manager of the Cornell Daily Sun, and a member of Sphinx Head.

After Cornell, he started, built, and led his own petroleum refining consulting business, in which he was awarded 22 patents. He did take a brief break from the oil business to serve as a member of the engineering team in Honolulu that designed, enlarged, deepened, and substantially upgraded the Pearl Harbor naval base there starting in the fall of 1939.

So if we can say Malcolm’s younger brother Elbert was to become “the chief jurist of the American civil rights movement”, Malcolm could claim that he literally set the stage for Act I, Scene 1 of World War II. Thus, we Cornell Pikes can proudly say that Davy having been composed at 17 South, the two most significant events in twentieth century American and world history – the civil rights movement, and World War II, got started in room 4 of the Pi Kappa Alpha house where the two Tuttle brothers roomed!

Alfred “The Count” Savage DVM ’14.

Alfred was the captain of the fencing team as Cornell vet student. On graduating from Cornell, and after World War I service in the the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, he joined what became the University of Manitoba faculty in 1921, serving as its Professor of Animal Pathology and Bacteriology from 1930 to 1964, and professor emeritus from 1964 to 1970. He also served as Dean of the agriculture college from 1933 to 1937, with oversight responsibility for its agriculture, veterinary, and home economics programs, and was for two years the acting president of the University. As a teacher, his Hall of Fame biography noted that he was “a very unusual combination of an intellectual and an entertainer … His lectures will long be remembered by students, colleagues, and members of the rural community. The missives so freely given from his vast store of knowledge were liberally spiced with criticisms and a delightful sense of humor. … His research in pathology, sperm morphology, physiology and clinical medicine are recorded in numerous papers in a wide range of scientific journals.” Savage conducted early investigations of semen evaluation and agglutination tests for brucellosis, and developed surgical instruments and improved techniques for anesthesia. He is considered one of the pioneers and early practitioners who refined the techniques of bovine insemination.

Franklin L. Newcomb ME ’13, MME ‘15.

Newc and two of his fraternity brothers, Donald H. Reeves ‘13 and Harry Blair Hull ’13 remained at Cornell for their master’s degrees, and jointly co-authored their thesis The Multi-tone Automobile Horn: The Design and Construction of a Horn for the Control and Production of Sound. It was the first practical “how to” manual for the emerging American automobile industry, and a cutting edge improvement to temper the gauche behavior of automobile drivers and their passengers yelling, shouting and giving the bird to pedestrians and other drivers to GTFOOMW.

Newc went on to a career with Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon-Mobil) in their Bayway refinery, leading Standard Oil’s design and development labs there. On his watch, his lab developed a number of innovative firsts in petrochemical refining and manufacturing, including the hydrogenation process to get greater yields; the creation of the first petrochemical, isopropyl alcohol; the manufacture of tetraethyl lead; the first catalytic cracker to produce high octane aviation gasoline in World War II; the production of synthetic rubber; and the manufacture of petrochemical explosives. By 1949, Bayway was the largest oil refinery in the world, supplying Standard Oil’s outlets throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic states, and even today remains the largest refinery in the western hemisphere.

Ralph Knapp ME ’13, MME ’15.

After serving as a major and the #2 chemical weapons officer on General Pershing’s staff in France in World War I, Ralph was named managing director of American relief efforts in Greece and western Turkey between 1921 and 1923. In what is known as the “Smyrna Holocaust”, Ralph and his American team successfully rescued and resettled over one million Greeks who were being expelled from western Turkey by the Turks, and 500,000 Turks from Greece into Turkey. For his efforts, Greece awarded Ralph its highest civilian medal, The Order of Our Redeemer, and his services and honor were reported in hundreds of papers across the country. After that experience and until World War II, Ralph worked and lived happily in Paris with his war bride, a native of Tours. He served there as the vice president, finance and treasurer of Paramount Pictures and its predecessor companies, and later as vice president, treasurer and director of Precision Castings in Syracuse.

Harry Blair Hull ME ’13, MME ’15.

After inventing the automobile horn with his two fraters at 17 South Avenue, and World War I service in Europe, Harry joined General Motors in Dayton, where he rose to become its chief design engineer and the secretary of its New Devices Committee. In his “day job”, Harry earned over 110 patents, having designed, among other things, the first practical and commercially feasible room air conditioner, the fever machine, the Pavex machine, and the iron lung. His New Devices Committee had been set up by Alfred P. Sloan, GM’s chairman, and is believed to have been chaired by Charles Kettering. (Does MIT’s Sloan School or the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute ring a bell? Or honk your horn?)

In 1940, the National Association of Manufacturers inducted Harry into their Hall of Fame as a Pioneer of American Industry.

Ivan C. Dresser BA ’19.

Ivan Dresser joins Elbert Tuttle (above) at the apex of PiKA’s ideal of achievement as a scholar, leader, athlete and gentleman. His Cornell athletic career culminated with his winning the gold medal at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. At Cornell, as a sophomore, he was the national champion of the 1917 IC4A cross country race. He then won the national champion IC4A two mile run in 1918 and 1919. Dresser was captain of Cornell’s cross country team 1917 and 1918 and captain of the Cornell track and field team in 1919. He was named to the 1919 All-American intercollegiate and 1919 national track teams, and was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985.

His 9:22.4 time in the two-mile was an intercollegiate record that was unbroken for ten years, and his accomplishments received world-wide news coverage.

In addition to his track accomplishments, he was a member of the Cornell Glee Club, the Aleph Samach junior men’s honorary, and Sphinx Head, the senior men’s honorary.

After Cornell, Ivan joined General Motors, serving as general manager in Europe and South Africa, president of General Motors of Mexico, and at his death, he was vice president, international of General Motors in New York. In 1955, King Baudouin of Belgium conferred on him the honor of Officer of the Order of Leopold II “for services rendered to Belgium for a period of thirty years.”

Charles Henry Fowler, CE ’14.

After working a number of civil engineering jobs in New York, Springfield Massachusetts, and Pittsburgh, Chuck joined the H. K. Ferguson Company of Cleveland, a designer, general contractor and project manager for major industrial plants, with many claims to fame. His greatest accomplishment was in its role in the Manhattan Project in World War II. In 1944, Chuck’s team was tasked to build the U235 uranium hexafluoride enrichment plant, and in 90 days. Twenty-one other firms thought this deadline was impossible, even ridiculously insane, and declined to even bid on the project. But Chuck’s team rose to the challenge. They not only completed the project one time and to specification, but did so in 67 days, 23 days before the contracted deadline. By January 1945 the plant was in full production.

The results would be seen in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, and three weeks later on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima. By stopping the war in August 1945, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were estimated to spared at least one million American casualties that would have resulted from a “boots on the ground” invasion of the Japanese homeland.

Henry G. “Mickey” O’Connor, BA ’15.

After Cornell, “Mickey” returned to Wayland, New York, where he quickly rose from clerk, to plant superintendent, and eventually to vice president, of Gunlocke, which at the time was the premier wooden office furniture manufacturing company.

Mickey took a brief break from Gunlocke to serve in France in World War I with distinction, being the highest decorated of any of our alumni warriors in World War I. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, second highest only to the Medal of Honor awarded by our nation. In 1946-1947, he served as the National Commander of the Army and Navy Legion of Valor. Membership in the Legion is restricted to our combat veterans who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, or the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Robert Alexander Anderson ME ’16.

Three significant accomplishments marked Alex Anderson’s post-Cornell career.

1. On graduating, he opted to get into World War I before America did, and enlisted in the Royal Flying Service for flight training, later transferring to what became the US Air Force. He undertook five combat missions, and on the fifth, was shot down, wounded, captured, escaped through Holland and wrote up his escapade, which was serialized in seven articles in McClure’s Magazine in 1919, the first of which was titled The Dawn Patrol. Hollywood turned his story into two movies, neither of which bore any resemblance to Alex’s exploits. Alex later commented, “Hollywood can do what we couldn’t.” Still later, Charles Schultz had his “Snoopy” character in the in the “Peanuts” cartoon taking off from the roof of his doghouse on his dawn patrol, in futile search of “The Red Baron”.

2. Returning to his native Hawaii he rose to CEO and chairman of Von Hamm-Young, later the Hawaii Corporation. Von Hamm had diverse interests as owner of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, many other commercial properties in downtown Honolulu and along the Waikiki beach (including most of the beach), and retailing, as well as the Dodge automobile and Frigidaire franchises. Alex’ success in refrigerating Hawai’i was only the beginning.

3. Alex also loved songwriting. While he never studied music, Alex composed nearly 200 island songs many of which became standards. One of his earliest compositions, written while at Cornell in room 10 of our house was When Twilight Falls of Blue Cayuga, which was adopted as the official song of his class of 1916. We’re now hoping to get it adopted as the official Class of 2016 song.His personal favorite was Haole Hula.

Loren J. Mead Ag ’16.

Straight out of Cornell, Loren followed Horace Greeley’s advice to “Go West, young man”. He went west back to his native California, never stopped, and kept going all the way to China, having signed on as a salesman for Standard Oil of New York (later Mobil) in Shanghai. Loren would become Standard Oil’s (and our) “old China hand” until the Communist takeover in 1949. In addition to developing Standard’s Oil markets there, he personally observed the war-lording and corruption of the 1920s, fled the Japanese invasions in the 1930s (including the Rape of Nanking) while observing still more war-lording and corruption throughout and after World War II, and the rise of the Communists in the 1940s. By late 1941, he headed Mobil’s operations in China. Returning to New York after the Communist takeover, he was one of Mobil’s international corporate vice presidents until his retirement.

Ralph H. Blanchard, BA ’17.

Ralph became involved as the first executive secretary of an innovative charitable giving initiative spearheaded by Paul Schoellkopf ’09 called the Community Chest of Niagara Falls. The operation quickly expanded nationwide, and Ralph soon moved to head the organization in greater New York. From 1943 to his retirement in 1960, he was the first national executive director of the United Community Funds and Councils of North America. Today, the United Way raises over $4 billion annually.

He considered his secret pride was to have “midwifed” the National Health and Welfare Retirement Plan for charity workers. Even by 1953, most social workers had no retirement plan and were not yet covered by Social Security. Ralph changed that, launching a personal campaign that took two years of speeches and cajoling that was successfully concluded in October, 1945. By 1949, the retirement plan covered 21,500 people from 2,000 agencies in 300 cities and 40 states. From 1951 to 1965, in addition to his duties as head of the United Way, Ralph served as the president of that organization.

His efforts on behalf of organizing the fundraising for the United Negro College Fund were also praised at a 1948 luncheon hosted by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Paul Knapp BChem ’17.

Paul was the younger brother of Ralph Knapp, above. He spent his career as a manufacturing engineer and executive with DuPont.

The “cash cow” of the DuPont Corporation from the late 1920s through the 1980s was synthetic fibers. After refining the processes to spin and weave rayon (which they had licensed from the French), the DuPont research labs were prolific in inventing such fibers as Nylon®, Orlon®, Dacron®, Lycra®, Permasep® and Kevlar®, among many others. Commercializing the markets for these fibers required both laboratory innovations to discover them and manufacturing engineering innovations to produce them in massive volumes economically, and in quality.

Paul was very involved in the latter. His job was to set up and manage the production processes in Du Pont’s fiber businesses, first in their pioneer plant in Waynesboro, Virginia, and later as a senior Du Pont executive back in Wilmington. Paul was awarded at least three US patents, two of which involved improved manufacturing processes for synthetic fibers, the last of which involved a process of improving the “hand”, or feel of synthetics. As described in his application, by the nature of their chemistry, many synthetic fabrics have an inherently slick, or “greasy” feel compared to natural fibers. Paul’s process allowed them to be softened, feeling more like linen, wool, or cotton.

At Cornell, Paul participated in the Cornell Orchestra, the Cornell Festival Chorus, Alpha Chi Sigma, and was selected for Tau Beta Pi.