Hockett, Shirley O.
Shirley O. Hockett, longtime Ithaca resident, died Sunday, September 29, 2013, at Bridges Cornell Heights, where she had resided since 2008. Sonja Orlinoff (who later changed her name to Shirley) was born September 5, 1920, the second child of Morris and Rose Orlinoff, in the Bronx, NY. Her older sister, Theresa Orlinoff Kalter, preceded her in death in 2002. An avid and eager student, she attended Hunter High School and Hunter College, where she earned her bachelor's degree in mathematics, in 1941. She then went on to the University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor, where she was awarded a master's degree in applied mathematics. It was while studying in Michigan that she met Charles F. (Chas) Hockett, who became her husband in April 1942. That same year, Shirley enlisted in the U.S. Navy
, and after Waves' Officers Candidate School, she was stationed in Washington, D.C., where, according to writings by Chas Hockett, the navy "exploited her mathematical ability by letting her remember the telephone numbers of everyone anyone in her office needed to call." Her pregnancy with their firstborn child, Alpha (born in 1944), was her "honorable discharge from the Navy." In fall of 1946, she and Chas moved to Ithaca, where he began his career as a professor of linguistics and anthropology at Cornell, and she joined the Cornell faculty as a part-time math instructor in the engineering school, where she taught for the next twenty years. Four more children would be born to the couple, between 1947 and 1953. Shirley left Cornell and joined the department of mathematics at Ithaca College in 1966. She was named a full professor in 1973, and shortly after her 1991 retirement she was honored with the title of professor emerita. She also taught the advanced placement calculus class for several years at Ithaca High School, in the late sixties. Shirley was regarded as an exceptional teacher by students and colleagues alike. She was ebullient and energetic, and always prided herself on her ability to learn the name of every student in every class on the very first day. She won several teaching awards and was the founding president of the college's chapter of the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi. Published in 1971, her first book, "How to Prepare for Advanced Placement Examinations: Mathematics," had its twelfth edition released earlier this year. She wrote and coauthored several textbooks and served as editor of the "New York State Mathematics Teachers' Journal" from 1969 to 1974. Though Shirley didn't begin studying to play an instrument until the age of 57, music always played an important part in the life of her family, including her husband, Chas, and their five children. She was soon playing alongside Chas, a fellow clarinetist, in the Ithaca Concert Band. She often referred to her clarinet and the band as the great joys of her later life. Both she and Chas were active with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, and Shirley, who was president of the board of directors from 1979 to 1984, was later named director emerita. Shirley and Chas were major supporters of the campaign to build the James J. Whalen Center for Music at Ithaca College, which opened in 1999. The Hockett Family Recital Hall was named in recognition of their significant contributions to the School of Music, as was the Shirley and Chas Hockett Chamber Music Concert Series. Chas died shortly after the inaugural concert in the fall of 2000, and Shirley provided a permanent endowment for the series and established the Charles F. Hockett Music Scholarship in his memory. The scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the School of Music who is majoring in composition. Shirley is survived by her five children and their partners, Alpha Hockett Walker (David Weiss) of Los Angeles, Asher Orlinoff Hockett (Carmen Maria Hockett) of Danby, Amy Robin Rose (Ed Sackett) of Detroit, Rachel Hockett (Arthur Bicknell) of Ithaca, and Carey Beth Hockett (Sayedah Ahmed) of Los Angeles; five grandchildren—Carly Walker, Luke Walker, Hannah Walker Edelman, Charles Kee, and Annie Kee; and five great-grandchildren, Chasden, Sonja, Elle, Ivan, and Dage. A recital to celebrate her life is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in the Hockett Family Recital Hall, at Ithaca College, where the inscription reads: "A gift from Professor Emerita Shirley O. Hockett, named in honor of Chas and Shirley Hockett and their children, Alpha, Asher, Robin, Rachel, and Carey, whose passion for music is exceeded only by their love for one another."