Gladys Jean McConkey died at her home on Aiken Rd. on February 26, 2013, at the age of 89.
She is remembered for her generosity of spirit, including her hospitality to visitors, and her capabilities as a research chemist and as an editor. Married for 68 years to Jim, who survives her, she and her husband felt their relationship to be an unusually lucky one, for they never had reason to quarrel.
Gladys began her scientific career as a research chemist for Standard Oil of Ohio, while taking part-time graduate studies in chemistry at Case-Western Reserve University. She and Jim were married during World War II, on his last furlough before being shipped overseas as an infantryman. Following his discharge from the Army, both of them began graduate studies at the University of Iowa, Gladys in biochemistry and Jim in English and American literature. Gladys worked as a research chemist while completing the thesis for her master of science degree.
Upon completing their graduate studies, Gladys and Jim joined the faculty at what was then Morehead State College in eastern Kentucky. Gladys taught journalism before becoming head of public relations. At Cornell, Gladys worked in the laboratory of Peter Debye. She and Alfred Prock are co-authors of Topics in Chemical Physics, a book that depends on the notes Debye, the Nobel laureate in chemistry, had put down as an aid to memory while giving a series of lectures at Harvard. Since she and their growing family accompanied Jim to Europe on his sabbatical leaves, she resigned positions to apply for new ones upon returning to Ithaca. She worked in the biochemistry laboratory of George Hess and later in the College of Engineering, first as an assistant to Don F. Berth, editor of Engineering: Cornell Quarterly, then as editor and ultimately as the Engineering Collegeâs director of publications. In that post, she continued to edit the Quarterly while polishing articles and editing and publishing books.
Born July 10, 1923, in Cleveland, OH, Gladys was a daughter of the late William H. and Charlotte (Pickering) Voorhees. In addition to her parents, Gladys was preceded in death by her sister, Katherine Voorhees Steigerland. She is survived by her husband and their sons, Larry McConkey (Diana) of Stockton, NJ, Cris McConkey of Trumansburg, Jim McConkey (Kristin) and their children, Katie and Braeden of Stockton, NJ; and a nephew, Dale Steigerwald of Trumansburg, and various other relatives.
A brief graveside service, limited to family members and officiated by Rev. Edie Reagan, will begin at 2pm Saturday, March 2, 2013, at Greensprings Natural Cemetery, 293 Irish Hill Rd., Newfield, NY. A reception, open to the public, will be held from 3 to 5 pm in the parlor of the Unitarian Church, 306 N. Aurora St., Ithaca.