Eugene R. Chamberlain '50

Gene Chamberlain '50Gene Chamberlain, 91, of Hingham passed away December 8, 2011. Husband of the late Helen (Howard) Chamberlain, he was the father of Elizabeth Betsy C. Habich of North Reading, Richard R. Chamberlain of Hingham and Anne H. Tuite of Shrub Oak, N.Y.; grandfather of Christopher Topher Chamberlain, Matthew Howard and John Jack Ryan Tuite. Gene, as he was universally known, was born in Chicago, and spent parts of his formative years in London and in his father's birthplace, Prescott, Ontario.

On the advice of his father, Gene enlisted in the Navy before war was declared, in July 1940, and served on ships USS Savannah, USS Biloxi, and USS Portsmouth, seeing action at Port Lyautey, Morocco (aboard the Savannah in Nov. 1942), and at Truk, Saipan, Palau, Yap islands in the Pacific (aboard the Biloxi, Jan. - May 1944) rising to the rank of Ensign. One shore leave brought him to visit cousins in Hingham, where he met Helen. They married following the War in June 1945, in the living room of Helen's family home, which later became the center of Chamberlain family life. The marriage was a cornerstone of Gene's life, and lasted almost 60 years, until Helen's death in 2004.

Following the War, Gene attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity and became a Life Loyal Sig lifetime member. Gene was voted friendliest man on campus, and graduated with BA in Economics. Moving back to Hingham, Gene tried his hand at business, working for the Boston Woven Hose and Rubber Company, before finding his true calling working with what were then called foreign students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Perhaps drawing on his own early international experiences, Gene was an early and passionate advocate for the value of including people with different backgrounds in American universities, befriending numerous individual students and becoming active in the new National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA), which he served four times as president of the New England Region (1957, 1958, 1975, and 1976) and as president of the national association (1969-70). In recognition of his efforts, MIT awarded him its Billard Award in 1985, for what then-Institute President Paul Gray characterized as "...his efforts to make MIT a truly international university." Later he was made an honorary member of the MIT Alumni Association.

Gene's retirement from MIT in 1986 began a new phase in his life, his passionate devotion to Hingham, the town which gave him his beloved wife, Helen, and her extended family. Involvement with the Hingham Historical Society lead to his advocacy for forging ties with other Hinghams in the world, most notably Hingham, England, and for preservation and promotion of all things Hingham, eventually as president of the society. In 1998, the Hingham Journal honored him as their Citizen of the Year for working tirelessly to ensure that Hingham citizens of all ages appreciate their towns rich past. He was also an active participant in the Second Parish in Hingham, in later years particularly enjoying the Men's Breakfasts and participating in church mentoring programs and lectures, the Hingham chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, volunteered in the public schools, and promoted the legacy of early American painter Isaac Sprague, who in the early 1800s had lived in the home later occupied by the Howard and Chamberlain families. A memorial service was conducted January 14, 2012 in Hingham.

Published in The Hingham Journal from January 10 to January 17, 2012

All honor to his name.

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