Malcolm Chamberlain ’48

Malcolm Chamberlain ’48 died on January 20, 2016, in Shelburne, Vermont.

(The following was published in The Burlington Free Press on February 14, 2016):

Mal Chamberlain, 90, died peacefully in his home in Shelburne on January 20, 2016 with his wife by his side. He was born in Binghamton, NY on June 7, 1925, son of the late Esther (Thyng) and Samuel Harrison Chamberlain. He moved with his parents and sister to Short Hills, NJ, then Plymouth, MA. While in Plymouth Mal learned to sail, winning many races. He continued sailing until his early 80’s.

Mal graduated from Bowdoin College with a BS in Math. While there he began swimming, a lifelong habit he continued until well into his 80’s. Every year he celebrated his birthday by swimming two lengths of an Olympic sized pool underwater with one breath. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While there he met his first wife Helen (Haddox) Chamberlain.

Recruited by Dow Chemical Company Mal moved with Helen to Midland, MI where he worked for the Dow Chemical Company until his retirement. While with Dow he held seven different positions, beginning with research in cellulose chemistry and ending with positions in Human Resources where he interviewed and hired people for many positions. He found chemists even more interesting than chemistry. In his last position he counseled employees on how to take early retirement. Following his own advice Mal retired from Dow at age 62 and moved with Helen to Shelburne, VT, a town they chose because of its 4 seasons and its colleges and university.

Mal thrived during his retirement, becoming proficient on the computer, doing woodwork, conducting surveys on public decision-making, taking classes at UVM, and volunteering for, among other organizations, United Way and the Green Mountain Audubon Center. He served on and eventually chaired Audubon’s Board, with all that entails. Helen, his first wife, died in 1987 following 37 years of marriage.

In 1989 Mal married Sarah (Bassett) and lived with her in Shelburne until his death. Continuing a lifelong love of travel that began during his first marriage he and Sarah camped and hiked throughout the United States, travelled to New Zealand for several “treks” there, and sailed on Lake Champlain and in the British Virgin Islands. He was perhaps most at home outdoors, especially in the woods. While young Mal spent many years at Camp Medomak in Maine, first as a camper, then as a counselor. At age 80 he helped rebuild a lean-to there he had first built more than 6 decades earlier. A proficient canoeist and hiker he canoed the Allagash River many times, and twice was the first person in the United States to watch the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine. A deer hunter Mal used a bow and arrow, giving the deer the better odds. He cared less for getting a deer than for tramping in the woods.

Mal had a well-developed spiritual side and meditated daily for decades. No matter what their flaws Mal always saw the good in people and cultivated many friendships. He was enormously proud of his surviving children, daughter Susan (Chamberlain) Williams and son Gerald (Jerry) Chamberlain. When asked where he grew up Mal would often say in Vermont. Determined to be an even better grandfather than parent he often travelled to spend time with his grandchildren for their birthdays.

Mal was predeceased by his parents, Esther and Samuel Chamberlain; his sister, June Chamberlain; his parents-in-law, Linaford and Glenn Bassett; and his sister-in-law, Abigail (Abby) Bassett. He is survived by his daughter, Susan (Chamberlain) Williams and her husband, Thomas Williams of Hilton Head, S.C.; his son, Jerry Chamberlain of Grosse Ile, Mich., his grandchildren, Katie Williams, Jarret Chamberlain, Shannon (Chamberlain) Gorkiewicz, and Briana Chamberlain; brother-in-law, Glenn Bassett and his wife, Charlene (Dauphin) of South Burlington; and his wife of 26 years, Sarah Chamberlain.