FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chalmers F. Sechrist Jr. was born on Aug. 23, 1930, and reared in Glen Rock (York County), Pa. His parents were Chalmers F. Sechrist and Lottie Smith Sechrist.
He was married to the late Beatrice Myers Sechrist in Burnham (Lewistown), Pa., on June 29, 1957. They enjoyed 62 years of marriage together.
He is survived by his son, Jonathan; his wife, Nancy; their daughter; Jennifer Sechrist Mai; and her husband, Phillip Mai.
Chalmers graduated from Glen Rock High School in 1948. In 1952, he graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University with a B.E. degree in electrical engineering. At Pennsylvania State University, he received an M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1954, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in January 1959.
From 1959 to 1965, he was a Staff Engineer in the Research Department of HRB-Singer Inc. in State College, Pa. From 1965 to 1992, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, he rose from Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering to Professor of ECE, Associate Head of the ECE Department and Assistant Dean of Engineering, where he assisted with the creation of student exchange programs with universities including Japan, China and Russia.
His research in the Aeronomy Laboratory was involved with the lower ionospheric D region and he supervised graduate students who investigated the winter anomaly, seasonal and diurnal variations in the electron concentration vs. altitude, based on rocket measurements and computer models of the ion and neutral chemistry.
Between 1992 and 1996, while on a leave of absence, he served as a Program Manager in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C.
In 1996, he retired from the UIUC and moved to Fort Myers, Fla., where he joined in 1998 the new Florida Gulf Coast University as an Adjunct Professor of Engineering. He created and taught several courses in engineering and technology. In 2005, he was appointed to the Advisory Board and assisted with the formation of the School of Engineering.
During the period 1997 to 2012, he was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, where he taught several courses and qualified as Coxswain to command a patrol vessel on weekends. Also, from 2009 to 2016, he served on several committees and the Resident Council at Cypress Cove retirement community in Fort Myers. Between 2012 and 2016, he was President of the Florida Life Care Retirement Association, which works with the Florida State Legislature to ensure the benefits of residing in a Continuing Care Retirement Community.
Chalmers’ interests included photography, amateur radio, golf, tennis, sail and power boating, and volunteering. Also of interest was the preparation of talks on topics such as global warming and climate change, fixing systems that should be upgraded and updated, and what the Boomers planned to do in their retirement years.
Chalmers was a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Society for Engineering Education and is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Inc. In addition, he is listed in Who’s Who in America.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Philanthropy Fund at Cypress Cove, 10200 Cypress Cove Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908. Memo: In memory of Chalmers Sechrist.
Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 1589 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, Fla., is entrusted with final arrangements. To leave an online condolence, please visit fortmyersmemorial.com.