Remembering Dr. Margaret Chase Locke, Jr.

October 13 2017
Category: Academics

Elmira College mourns the death of Professor Emerita and Benefactor, Dr. Margaret Chase Locke, Jr. who dedicated her life to helping others further their education and fulfilling their dreams.

Dr. Locke began her tenure at Elmira College in 1959 and retired as the Director of Elmira College’s Physical Education Department, after 30 years and teaching more than fifty courses during her tenure. She received the McGraw Excellence in Teaching Award in 1976.

Today the College grants two awards in her name. The Margaret Locke Community Service Prize, an endowed prize, was established by Barbara Linenthal ’75 and other friends and is awarded during the annual Academic Honors and Student Recognition Ceremony. To date, there have been 56 recipients so honored. The Margaret Locke Citizenship Award is presented during the annual Athletics awards ceremony. The campus swimming pool in Emerson Hall was named in her honor, as was the Locke Office in Meier Hall, which faces Emerson Hall's Speidel Gymnasium.

Margaret received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, a master’s degree in physical education and health education from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the Ph.D. in physical education at Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts, where she was the first woman to attain that degree. She received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Springfield in 2002.

Dr. Margaret Locke and Barbara Linenthal '75 shared a special bond.
Dr. Margaret Locke and Barbara Linenthal '75 shared a special bond.

Dr. Locke was also well known for her activity in the community, particularly as an American Red Cross volunteer, who began her service in fourth grade and remained active well into her 90s. During that time she received many honors, particularly the Award of Merit, the highest national honor presented for saving lives. During a hurricane in 1955, Margaret braved a raging river while serving as a counselor at a camp in the Pocono Mountains to save two people who were being washed away. “I did what I had to do,” said Dr. Locke. “They need help, and I was capable of giving it.”  

Margaret was an extensive world traveler, visiting nearly every part of the globe during her lifetime. But her favorite trip was to Antarctica where she participated in the first Quark Circumnavigation Antarctica in 1996-1997 and attained, another first, on a Russian Icebreaker in 1999. As of 2004, Dr. Locke was one of only eleven in the world to circumnavigate both the Antarctica and Arctic poles. “The desire to travel is in my blood,” said Margaret at the time, explaining that the urge began with her grandmother who crossed Tibet on an elephant. “My parents traveled either side of the Equator, and my sister, an orchid explorer, traveled along the Equator. I decided to explore the poles.”

All who knew her will miss this interesting, dedicated and exceptional friend. She once said, “I love life, and I want to be on-the-go.” She certainly was and gave us these parting words of wisdom, “Enjoy your work. Meet people, exchange ideas and knowledge. It all leads to new experiences that will continue throughout life.”

A service honoring her memory and accomplishments will be held by her family in Peterson Chapel in Cowles Hall in the spring of 2018.

Dr. Locke, Director of Physical Education, led decades of students in athletics and health sciences.
Dr. Locke, Director of Physical Education, led decades of students in athletics and health sciences.