In Memoriam

Listing includes notices shared with the university between Jan. 16 through May 15, 2022.



Harold Burkhart, University Distinguished Professor and dedicated researcher, teacher, and mentor in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, died Oct. 20. Burkhart, a professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, was recognized in 2019 for 50 years of service to Virginia Tech. He had been a member of the faculty since 1969. As a scholar, Burkhart’s research interests and expertise were in modeling forest stand dynamics, growth, and yield. His work led many to regard him as a pioneer in sustainable forest management, as his modeling methods were adopted not only in Virginia and the East Coast, but also across the nation and around the globe.

Sue Duncan, a professor, and researcher in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for more than 32 years, died Oct. 12. Duncan started her career at Virginia Tech in 1990, when she was the first woman hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. After her promotion to professor, she was named the associate director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. She also served as the director of the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture. Duncan focused her research on the sensory and chemical characterization of food and beverages. She founded the Virginia Tech Sensory Evaluation Laboratory.

“Gene” Egger, the Patrick and Nancy Lathrop Professor of Architecture Emeritus in what is now the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design, died May 21. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1969, Egger contributed to the teaching mission of the architecture studio at the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. He also aided in the advancement of the international education abroad program as director of special programs for the college. Egger was awarded the Alumni Award for Excellence in International Programs and named international president of the Phi Beta Delta honor society for international scholars.

Daniel Hodge, who served as the head of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech from 1981-89, died July 20. During Hodge’s tenure, the upper three floors of Whittemore Hall were completed and the Virginia Power Electronics Center and the Fiber and Electro-Optics Research Center were established as statewide Technology Development Centers. Hodge and his wife, Lorraine, contributed generously to the department by creating the Hodge Department Head Discretionary Fund, which annually supports the department’s students who participate in regional and national team competitions.

James Richard Sochinski, professor emeritus, died Jan. 10. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1977, Sochinski made significant contributions to music at Virginia Tech as a composer. A professor of music, Sochinski served as director of the Marching Virginians from 1978-81, and his arrangements for the marching band, including “The Hokie Pokie,” have been heard by millions. "Uncle Jim," as he was affectionately called by the band members, later served as music director and arranger during the 1981-89 and 1991-93 seasons. Sochinski also performed as the bass trombonist with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra for 33 years.

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