Rider celebrates Elliott’s life

By Emily Kelley

One Christmas morning, a foreign exchange student from Germany attending Rider College showed up at Dr. Frank N. Elliott’s door. He had nowhere to go for the holiday. Immediately, Elliott opened up his home and invited the student in for dinner with his family, exhibiting his unending love and support for the Rider community.

On Sept. 23, Frank N. Elliott, the fourth president of Rider, serving from 1969 to 1990, passed away at the age of 89. An open memorial service was held at The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville on Nov. 23 to remember and celebrate his life.

“We acknowledge that we gather at a time of loss and grief,” said the Rev. Dr. Jeffery A. Vamos, pastor of the church where Elliott was a regular attendee. “While we shed tears, let us be reminded that they are holy medicine. They are means for healing. We come together to comfort each other.”

The pews were crowded with friends and family. Vamos started the service with a welcome to the guests, an introduction to the remembrance and celebration of Elliott’s accomplishments and success during his life. It was followed by a clarinet rendition of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” performed by Dr. Jerry Rife, chairman of Rider’s Fine Arts Department.

During Elliott’s 21 years as president, he worked to help the college attain university status, something that did not happen until 1994. Since 1969, Elliott and his wife opened their doors to the Rider community, showing kindness and welcoming students. He would dedicate 70 hours each week to the campus.

Vamos shared stories provided by Elliott’s daughter, Sue, that captured the heart he had for Rider, his family and the church. Throughout his life, he also served on many local, state and national boards of directors of professional, corporate and service organizations.

Following the clarinet solo, hymns were sung, prayers were said and scripture was read to emphasize the value of Elliott’s life.

Before working at Rider, Elliott enlisted in the U.S. Army. After his military experience, he pursued higher education, earning a bachelor’s degree at Alfred University, a master’s degree at Ohio University and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin.

Under Elliott’s presidency, the number of faculty holding a doctoral degree increased from 32 percent to 90 percent, Rider’s School of Education received national recognition and the number of volumes in Moore Library doubled.

Each year, Rider gives the annual Frank N. Elliott award to a university faculty, administration and staff member who exhibit extraordinary service to Rider. This award continues to honor the legacy he left.

Because Elliot was a veteran of World War II, a tribute and bestowal of the flag was offered at the end of the service by a fellow veteran.

“He set the bar high when it came to a life well-lived,” Vamos said. “He was easy to get along with, generous and gracious. His legacy will indeed be remembered.”

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