Duke Flags Lowered: Engineering Professor Jack Chaddock Dies

May 7, 2015

Jack Bartley Chaddock, former professor and chairman of mechanical engineering at Duke, passed away on May 5 at the age of 90.

Chaddock grew up in Cameron, W.Va., and attended the University of West Virginia. In 1942, he joined the Naval Reserves as a commissioned officer. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Rotanin as the navigator. He spoke of the smoke shields that prevented enemy planes from diving on to the ship. He also guided the Rotanin out of the harbor to a safer port. He went through typhoons in the South Pacific where he talked about the waves coming over the boat and thinking they would never get back safely. After his service in the Navy, he earned his BS in mechanical engineering, an MS and PhD in engineering from M.I.T.

He was most interested in thermodynamics, air conditioning and mechanics. In 1955 he became a Fulbright Lecturer at the Finland Institute of Technology where 300 pages of his lectures were translated into Finnish. Jack was an associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957. Two years later, he accepted a position as professor of engineering at Purdue.

Chaddock arrived at Duke in 1966 when there were only three people on the mechanical engineering staff. He immediately started to build a PhD program. He went to Washington, D.C., and got a National Science Foundation grant to build an addition to Duke’s engineering building.

During the 1970s oil embargo, he was asked to head a delegation to help develop a new efficiency guidelines for energy use in the United States. Chaddock was chairman of mechanical engineering from 1966-1990 and associate dean from 1988-1990. His dedication to Duke and the teaching of his students was extremely rewarding to him.

He was president of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of the John B. Pierce Foundation in New Haven, Conn., from 1981-2004. He was instrumental in providing support for three scientific directors for a foundation that had a research focus on food intake, metabolism and obesity.

He loved playing golf, winning several club tournaments, and had three holes in one. He also enjoyed tennis and racing his sailboat at Kerr Lake in the summers. During his retirement he loved to hike the mountain trails around Grandfather Mountain near his summer home. Jack enjoyed Duke Basketball and was a season ticket holder for many years. After giving up his tickets, he never missed a televised game. He would text or call his children about the games. This last championship was a thrill for him.

Jack traveled the world. He had three wonderful sabbaticals in Australia, England and Berkley, California. In the 1950s, he skied in Vermont, New Hampshire and near the Artic Circle using wooden skis. When he was at M.I.T., he saw Ted Williams play at Fenway Park and Warren Spahn pitch for the Boston Braves. His epicurean enjoyment for regional foods and wines stayed with him his entire life.

He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Mallary, his two stepchildren James Mahoney and Katherine Reardon, and grandchildren Quinn and Cassidy Mahoney.

A burial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 9, at Maplewood Cemetery in Durham.