Emily Ramsdell Gillispie

Obituary of Emily Ramsdell Gillispie

Emily Ramsdell Clapp Gillispie, 95, of Princeton, N.J., passed away on April 8 after a brief illness. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Charles C. Gillispie, and a cousin, Edward Atwater of Rochester, N.Y. Born in Rochester, N. Y., on 14 October 1917, Emily Ramsdell Clapp was the daughter of William D. Clapp and Frances Atwater Clapp. She was a member of the class of 1935 at George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and of the Class of 1939 at the University of Rochester, where she graduated A.B. in English, with a minor in art history. Immediately after graduation she served as executive secretary to organize the inauguration of Helen Bragdon, newly elected president of Lake Erie College. In 1940 and 1941 she first worked for R. H. Macy's at the Bamberger store in Newark, and then served in a secretarial capacity in the law offices of R.T. Vanderbilt in New York City. Early in 1942, Emily Clapp returned to Rochester, where she held the post of Co-Director of the USO, the United Services Organization, the major facility serving the off duty needs of enlisted men at the nearby Samson Naval Training Station at Geneva. After the war, in 1945-46, she was recreation director at the naval station on Lake Champlain at Plattsburg, N. Y. In 1946 she moved to Boston to accept the position of assistant placement director at Simmons College. Emily Clapp and Charles Gillispie met in the summer of 1938, when they were members of a student group that travelled to Britain and the Continent under the auspices of the Experiment in International Living. They remained in touch thereafter and throughout the war years and were married at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rochester on 29 January 1949. Emily came to Princeton with Charles, who had joined Princeton University's faculty. In Princeton, Emily Gillispie worked as editorial assistant for the Jefferson Papers from 1950 until 1954. From 1955 until 1958 she was administrative assistant to Vice-President Quay of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Other than her wartime service at the USO, the professional position she most enjoyed was that of editorial secretary of The American Scientist, the Sigma Xi journal, which was under the direction of Dean Emeritus Sir Hugh Taylor, who served as editor until 1969. Throughout Charles Gillispie's academic career, his wife's editorial skills were of inestimable benefit in the preparation of all his writings. After Dean Taylor's retirement, Emily Gillispie returned to her student interest in the history of art. She then joined with others of the University League, wives of members of the University, who founded the docent organization of the Princeton University Art Museum. She served a term as Chairman of that volunteer organization from 1972 until 1974, and remained active giving tours, guidance, and museum talks through the 1990s. A private burial will take place on April 13 in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. A celebration of Emily's life will be held later this spring; details to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Princeton University Art Museum, McCormick Hall, Princeton, New Jersey 08544. Please designate "In support of Education and Outreach Programs, in memory of Emily Gillispie."
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Emily Ramsdell