My friend, Yardley Chittick, MIT '22, died over the weekend. Yardley was 107 and lived an incredible life. He was the oldest living alum of MIT and the oldest living member of my college fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. He was also the oldest living patent attorney.
I met Yardley while in college. I thought he was old then, but he was only 80! To the end, his mind was incredible sharp. He could tell stories about his life (some of them are mentioned in this rememberance) that would keep you mesmerized. Who else did you know who turned down a job from Thomas Edison and got into a fist fight with Humphrey Bogart?
In the circles he traveled in, Yardley was a celebrity. Despite his declining health, he reveled in the attention. He wouldn't hesitate to sing an old MIT fight song, "Back to Tech". But, my favorite memory of Yardley was a talk we had on a personal visit I made to him. I had brought my digital camera. Yardley had heard of digital cameras, but didn't know how they worked. Although I'm no expert, I had a general idea and explained it to him. It was clear that his patent attorney mind was in full gear. Although he wasn't up on the latest technology, you could tell that he had a keen understanding of how things worked. It was great to see his curiousity, even at more than 100 years of age!
Although it is hardly a shock when a 107-year old man dies, Yardley will still be missed at events that he would normally attend. He enjoyed meeting new people, and loved telling stories. We should all hope to live as long and achieve as much as Yardley Chittick.