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In Memoriam

  Alumni News  

Marjorie Holmes ’31

Inspirational author and columnist Marjorie Holmes 31, often called the “patron saint of housewives,” died Marc 13, 2002, in Manassas, Va. She was 91.

Her 32 books included a fictional trilogy of the life of Mary and Joseph, with the first book, Two From Galilee, becoming one of the 10 best-selling novels of 1972. Of the books’ success she said, “I made the Holy Family as real as the folks next door.”

After her first husband died of cancer in 1979 , she wrote God an Vitamins, about her efforts to prolong his life, and To Help You Through the Hurting, about andling grief. George Schmieler, a grateful reader who found the book helpful following the death of his wife, contacted her and the two eventually married. He died in 1992.

She contributed articles to numerous periodicals including McCall’s, Reader’s Digest, and Ladies’ Home Journal; wrote columns for the Washington Evening Star and Woman’s Day; and won awards including Woman of Achievement from the National Federation of Press Women (1972) and Celebrity of the Year from Women in Communications (1973). Cornell awarded her an honorary degree in 1998.

She is survived by three children, a sister, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Mary Lou Downs McIlrat ’38 Mary Lou Downs McIlrath 38, a businesswoman who started a foundation to support suburban shelters for abused women, died Jan. 16, 2002, in Park Ridge, Ill. She was 84.

Raised on a Wapello, Iowa, farm, she attended Cornell before graduating from Iowa State University. She taught home economics in Iowa while her husband was stationed overseas during World War II. In the early ’60s, the couple helped found the Dry Storage Corp. in Chicago. It later grew to become DSC Logistics in Des Plaines, Ill. A quiet and unassuming community activist, she established the Mary Lou Downs Foundation in 1993, which contributed to transitional shelters for homeless suburban women and ch ildren and victims of family violence.

She is survived by a daugh ter, a sister, two grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Melvin Hetland ’42

Editor’s note: It was brought to our attention that the Cornell Report neglected to appropriately recognize the passing four years ago of this ded icated educator. We offer this tribute now, with our apologies to his family and students.

Emeritus education professor Melvin Hetland '42, who helped initiate Cornell’s One-Course-At- A-Time curriculum, died June 13, 1998, in Asheville, N.C. He was 77.

Following service as a U.S. Navy officer during World War II, he spent 21 years as a public school teacher, counselor, and curriculum director. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in education from Columbia University. In 1965 he returned to Cornell to teach in the education department. After retiring in 1986, he continued teaching as a volunteer at an inner-city Asheville school.

During his tenure at Cornell, he and professor of German Alan DuVal made a momentous trip to Colorado College where they investigated the block plan. Upon their return, they helped initiate plans for a similar program at Cornell.

Hetland is survived by his wife, Edith Rauchenecker Hetland '42; five children, Norman Hetland '68, Paul Hetland '69, Philip Hetland '71, Ruth Hetland '73, and Lois Hetland '75; a sister, Marjory Ann Hetland Trigg '45; seven grandchildren; nieces and nephews.

Charles Jacot ’48

Former admissions director Charles Jacot ’48, whose most memorable moment as a standout athlete was scoring a touchdown against eventual Big Ten champ Indiana in 1947, died May 21, 2002, in Liberty ille, Ill. He was 76.

A member of Cornell’s Athletic Hall of Fame, he won 11 letters in three sports, captained the football and basketball teams as a senior, made the All-Midwest Conference team in both sports, and was a member of the winning two-mile relay team at the Drake Relays.

He was a high school coach at Hampton, Iowa, before returning for his first stint in Cornell’s admissions office. After earning a master’s degree from the Uni ersity of Iowa, he left to work in student affairs at the University of Delaware and Kansas State. In 1958 he became Cornell’s director of admissions until 1975. He was later Vice president of the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Sahs Jacot ’52; two children; a brother (wife Elizabeth Swaney Jacot ’40); and two grandchildren.

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