Oldest Alumnus Howard Lindeman ’32 Recalls College’s Centennial

Oldest AlumA member of Lafayette’s 100th graduating class, Howard C. Lindemann ’32 remembers the special events held on campus throughout that year in celebration of the centennial.

“We staged the surrender at Yorktown,” recalls Lindemann, 99, Lafayette’s oldest living alumnus, born June 23, 1911. “I rode a horse and played the role of Baron von Steuben.” The pageant, held on Fisher Field, presented key scenes from the life of the Marquis de Lafayette.

Lindemann, who resides in Hackettstown, N.J., received a B.S. in physics from Lafayette and a master’s in physics from Cornell University. He is retired president and founder of Lindly & Co., Inc., of Huntington, N.Y., a manufacturer of optical lenses for instruments for the medical and textile industries.

“When I graduated from Cornell, the country was in the Depression, and jobs were scarce,” explains Lindemann. “So I was lucky to find work with National Electrical Instrument Company in Elmhurst on Long Island. We manufactured a complicated lens used in military instruments.”

A member of ROTC and the rifle team while at Lafayette, Lindemann had planned to serve during the war, but kept getting deferred because of his knowledge and ability in optical-instrument manufacturing. He supervised a team of 15 women.

When the company was sold in 1948, Lindemann started his own business. “We made equipment for the warping operation in textile manufacturing,” he says. “The creels loaded with bobbins had to be watched during the weaving process. Each creel was watched by one woman. Our instrument, which had special optical lenses, made it possible for one woman to watch numerous creels all at once, which saved time and labor.”

Lindly & Co. also manufactured a device with a lens to inspect medical suturing materials for defects. “This made it possible to find broken filaments one-third the diameter of a human hair!”

Lindemann traveled to Europe six times and sold equipment in England, Holland, France, Italy, and Germany. “About 40 percent of our business was international at the time. We were helping countries replace war-torn equipment.”

One of Lindemann’s favorite memories of Lafayette is hiking with Prof. Eugene C. Bingham of the chemistry department. Bingham was a member of the Blue Mountain Club of Pennsylvania and helped open a large portion of the Appalachian Trail. “We hiked the trail between the Water Gap and Wind Gap and always had a great time.”

Oldest AlumFor many years, Lindemann returned for class reunions and football games and stayed in touch with two classmates who had become good friends, Carl Schuller ’32 and Ted Lewis ’32.

Lindemann enjoyed skiing until he was 92 and taught the sport to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was also an avid fly fisherman. “I taught my grandson how to fish and to tie flies, and now he is a much better fisherman than me. He has even been to Siberia to go to a special fishing spot,” says Lindemann, pointing to photographs in his room.

Lindemann’s wife, Elinor, has passed away. A photograph of her sitting on a stone wall at Olana, the Persian-style home of Hudson River Valley painter Frederic Edwin Church, in Hudson, N.Y., has a prominent location on the wall. “She was a very good painter,” he says, “and I enjoy looking at her paintings which surround me now.”


Lindemann became Lafayette’s oldest alumnus when Charles A. Schults ’31, of Basking Ridge, N.J., died Jan. 20 at age 99. Schults had been the College’s oldest alumnus for a month following the death of Joseph J. Robinson Jr. ’29.

Schults served as class correspondent from 1997 to 2009. A mechanical engineering graduate, he worked for American Can Company for 40 years before retiring in 1971. Born in Lemon Grove, Calif., March 23, 1911, he lived in Rahway and in Scotch Plains, N.J., before moving to Fellowship Village in 2000. A member of the First Presbyterian Church of Rahway for 89 years, he served as elder, deacon, trustee, and treasurer.  He served on the YMCA board in Rahway for 24 years, including three as president, and was a commissioner of Rahway Parking Authority. He is survived by his wife Vivian, and two daughters, Barbara DiBase and Dorothy Boos.

Robinson died Dec. 8, just before his 104th birthday. Born Dec. 11, 1906, in Brooklyn, N.Y., he moved to Sarasota, Fla., in 1972 from East Patchogue and Freeport, N.Y. He was a founding member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He was the owner of George M. Airten & Co., a ship-chandlery business in New York City, and later was an executive of Roosevelt Field in Mineola where he worked on fighter airplanes under the Lend Lease Program of the U.S. Navy for Great Britain. After the war, he became an executive with an international firm specializing in manufacturing and building sewage disposal plants. He is survived by his son, Joseph J. Robinson III, and three grandsons.