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Walter Joel Harrington[1]
Male 1916 - 2008

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  • Birth  9 Nov 1916  Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender  Male 
    Died  2 Jun 2008  Raleigh, North Carolina Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I3205  HARRIATKI
    Last Modified  02 Dec 2008 
     
    Father  Carl Ramon Harrington,   b. 24 Jun 1884, Ivory, Chautauqua Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Dec 1960, Frewsburg, Chautauqua Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Clara Frances Bunce,   b. 25 Jun 1892, Ivory, Chautauqua Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Oct 1946, Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  4 Aug 1914  Carroll, Chautauqua Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F1304  Group Sheet
     
    Family  Hazel Cheney,   b. 19 Jun 1915, Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Aug 1993, Raleigh, North Carolina Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  23 Aug 1941  Ivory, Chautauqua Co., New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
    Last Modified  03 Aug 2003 
    Family ID  F1334  Group Sheet
     
  • Photos 507355_1.jpg
    HarringtonA.jpg
     
  • Notes 
    • 26 Aug 1933 Salamanca Republican: "Walter J. Harrington of Frewsburg, one of the recent scholarship winners in Chautauqua Co., formerly was a student in the Salamanca high school. Walter moved to Frewsburg a year ago after completing three years work in high school here.
      Walter Joel Harrington, 91, a mathematician who was a pioneer in early rocket science in the United States, died at Morningside of Raleigh, N.C., on June 2, 2008. Dr. Harrington was born in Salamanca, N.Y., and grew up in western New York state. He received his PhD in mathematics at Cornell University in 1941 and taught at Penn State University from 1941 to 1944. From 1944 to 1946 he was research associate at Allegheny Ballistics Lab in Cumberland, Md., experimenting with new forms of rockets. After a year as visiting professor of mathematics at Cornell, 1946 to 1947, Dr. Harrington returned to Penn State, teaching there from 1947 until 1957. In 1957, Dr. Harrington joined the mathematics department of North Carolina State University, where he taught until 1982. He became professor emeritus upon his retirement.
      Walter Harrington

      by H. Sagan
      (From 1981-1982 Harrelson News)

      (The following is an almost verbatim transcript of an impromptu speech, made by Professor Hans Sagan at a meeting of the full professors of the Mathematics Department on March 29, 1982, after some unruly backbenchers had been admonished and told to sit by the chairman [E. Burniston].)

      Thus spoke Professor Sagan:

      We are all aware that Walter Harrington is going to retire at the end of this academic year. What many of us do not know and what has only recently come to my attention is that Walter plans to be away from our campus for the entire year that is to follow. Since this is the last meeting of the full professors during this academic year, I find it fitting and appropriate to say a few words in honor and recognition of the retiree.

      Walter Harrington came to North Carolina State University in 1957 as a full professor, which, if my arithmetic is correct, means that he gave this University a total of 25 years of uninterrupted service. Little did he know in 1941 when he wrote a thesis in Number Theory under Rosser at Cornell University, that he would wind up doing research in exterior ballistics and rocketry, and that he would publish on such mundane subjects as Orthogonal Functions, Mellin Transforms, Stress on Infinite Wedges (being and infinite wedge ought to be stress enough!) and Temperature Distributions. He has done all of that and much more.

      While at North Carolina State University, he was actively engaged in all facets of our academic life: he taught and advised undergraduate and graduate students, supervised M.S. and Ph.D. theses, and served at one time or other on almost every imaginable committee, with the possible exception of the coffee and doughnuts committee. Since 1976, he had served in an administrative capacity as Assistant Head of the Mathematics Department.

      On March 28, 1978, near the end of the most tumultuous year in the history of our department, he became Acting Head and held this position- for several minutes, when the resigned department head "unresigned" to the surprise of all and the consternation of most, having allegedly been told that he had resigned "for the wrong reasons."

      In 1979, he was called upon again to take the helm of the leaking and creaking departmental ship. This time, he held on and brought us back on a even keel with minimal losses. I am not quite sure that Walter is fully aware of the implications his leaving has on those of us who are left: for one, it makes Struble the Granddaddy of the Mathematics Department, and, for another, it leaves - oh horror- yours truly in the number two position of seniority. Walter, what can I say" Thank you for being such a steady and balancing force in our department for a full quarter of a century.

      (The speech was accentuated by a thunderous standing ovation for Professor Harrington.)
      During his years at North Carolina State, Dr. Harrington worked closely with Dr. John W. Cell and Dr. Roberts C. Bullock on a rocket research project based at North Carolina State and sponsored by the Department of the Army. During these years, he made numerous trips to the Army's missile center at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. In addition, he served as project director in the Office of Scientific Research grants of the U. S. Air Force from 1967 to 1972. Dr. Harrington's research and publications included a number of topics in applied mathematics, and he became, over the course of his career, a leading expert in the exterior ballistics of guided missiles. He was a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and Pi Mu Epsilon.

      Dr. Harrington's analytical mind led him to an interest in old clocks. Over approximately 40 years he acquired a sizeable collection of antique clocks, many of which he took apart and repaired in order to understand their mechanisms. His interest extended beyond the mechanics of clocks, however, to their role in the human understanding of and experience of time. He read widely on the subject of time and in the philosophy of religion.

      Walter Harrington was married to Hazel Cheney Harrington from 1941 until her death in 1993. He is survived by two children: Rachel Harrington Doggett of Bethesda, Md., and James Edward Harrington of Bear Creek, N.C. Survivors also include his brothers: Albert Harrington of Pullman, Wash., and Herbert Harrington of Belmont, N.Y.

      A memorial service will be held at Ivory Baptist Church, Ivory, NY, on Friday, Aug. 1, at 11 a.m.
     
  • Sources 
    1. [S160] RVH notes, Ronald Vern Harrington, (ca 1991 Rochester, NY), p3 (Reliability: 3).

    2. [S164] David Harrington genealogy notes, (1979).