A former student offers his tribute to the late Dr. George E. Elliott

January 07, 2006|By Gary W. Rohrer

To the editor:

It was with much sadness and disappointment that I learned of the passing of Dr. George E. Elliott. His broad smile and wonderful personality will be greatly missed.

As I reflect fondly on my years in pursuing my engineering degree, there are three people who were instrumental in my success as a student after a stint in the U.S. Navy.

Professors Charles Ernst, Marvin Shuster and Dr. Elliott were very patient mentors who recognized my hunger to learn and eagerness to practice the engineering profession. I was a young engineering student in the early '70s at (then) Hagerstown Junior College and had not taken school seriously before my military experience.

Among other course work, Dr. Elliott was my professor in Engineering Physics, a rigorous five-credit-hour course loaded with advanced mathematics.

Successful completion of this course, along with several others, was an absolute necessity for all students pursuing an engineering degree.


My return to higher education came after a six-year hiatus.Despite my eagerness to learn, I faced many challenges in "catching up" with some of my fellow students. Dr. Elliott always had time for students with questions and if he didn't, he found it for anyone thirsting to learn. If there was ever an intimidating bone in his body, I never sensed it. His course work, as well as that of Professors Ernst and Shuster, came with high standards and their easy manner and patience brought enormous encouragement and eventual success.

Simply stated, there was no such thing as a stupid question as long as it was sincere. Dr. Elliott was a dedicated "teacher" in the truest sense of the meaning. He not only cared genuinely about his students' comprehension, but also their ability to retain and apply what he had taught them.

As my classmates and I completed our Associate Degrees and went our separate ways to other institutions of higher learning, we were well prepared and grounded in the fundamentals of mathematics and science and capable of sitting in any classroom, as a result of quality instruction such as that of Dr. Elliott's. As some pursued engineering at institutions such as Penn State, Lehigh, Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, and of course, the University of Maryland, all were prepared and all were successful.

I convey these thoughts not as a salute to my own accomplishments or those of my classmates, but to Dr. Elliott and his colleagues who deeply cared about us and gave us every reasonable opportunity to succeed.

Upon coming to work for Washington County government, it was with great honor that I found Dr. Elliott calling upon me for assistance with various engineering services required for the many improvement projects at Hagerstown Community College. As our friendship grew more closely on a professional level, he became simply "George." Even then, he continued to be of encouragement to me, always offering a positive word and parting with a compliment.

I'm sure that there are many who have sat at the feet of Dr. Elliott's teaching who can attest to his high academic standards, his many wonderful qualities and his genuine concern for his students. He will be greatly missed.

Gary W. Rohrer, P.E.

HJC, Class of 1973;

University of MD, 1976

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