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Former professor refered by HCC colleagues

December 26, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, PA. - George E. Elliott was the sort of man who could be counted on, the sort of man who could get things done, though many who knew him said he also was mild-mannered and never sought recognition for his accomplishments.

Elliott, 65, a longtime member of Hagerstown Community College as a professor, department chairman and administrator, died Friday morning as a result of a shooting incident at the Greencastle Sportsman Association.

"I really had a high opinion of him. He was a terrific guy. I really admired him," said Chuck Ernst, former dean of the Advanced Technology Center, who taught engineering at HCC while Elliott served as a physics professor. "He was the backbone of the college."

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Elliott sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest while at the Greencastle Sportsman Association on Friday shortly before 11 a.m., Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg said. He died while being taken to Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospital.

Police said they do not believe the circumstances surrounding his death were suspicious, though an investigation is ongoing. Franklin County Coroner Jeff Conner said on Sunday he still was awaiting more information.

A native of Chambersburg, Pa., Elliott began teaching physics at the former Hagerstown Junior College in 1966. Over his 30-year tenure, he went on to become chairman of the science division, then dean of administrative services before retiring as professor emeritus in 1996.

Norman P. Shea, who served as president of HCC from 1986 to 2002, said as administrative dean, Elliott was instrumental in seeing several projects through to their fruition, including the technology center and the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

"He played a major role in the development of the college over the years," Shea said. "He was a very low-key individual, (recognition) was the last thing on his mind."

Shea said in addition to overseeing several important construction projects, Elliott also played a key role in developing programs at the college, including its reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Shea and others said Elliott led an active and rich life outside college, including going deer hunting like clockwork every fall, though he often would joke about not having caught anything. Ernst said Elliott was not bashful of new technologies, seeking to learn as much as he could about them long before they caught on with the general public.

Ernst said Elliott also was a handy outdoorsman and had participated in mission work with his church, Otterbein United Brethren Church in Greencastle, where he served on various committees and also taught an adult Sunday school class. After retiring from HCC, Elliott continued teaching at Penn State Mont Alto.

Florence "Flossie" Murdock, who served on the HCC board of trustees from 1985 to 2003, said Elliott was someone who was willing to do anything for anyone without seeking any recognition for doing so.

"He was a wonderful, wonderful human being," Murdock said. "If there was anything that Norman (Shea) wanted to have done, he'd call George and George did it. He was a gentle, gentle man."

Murdock said while she was upset to hear of Elliott's passing, she took consolation in knowing he lived a rich and full life.

"I just am so upset that this happened, however, I know he lived his life the way he wanted," Murdock said. "This man was one of the most wonderful men I ever knew."

For more than 20 years, Elliott served as secretary of the Antrim Township Planning and Zoning Commission, and Township Supervisor Larson Wenger said he held a vast amount of knowledge about the township, its history and vision.

"He had the community in mind," Wenger said.

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