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Memories of Cornelia Strong, June 1995

By Dorothy Yarbrough Zimmerman, Class of 1935

Cornelia Strong, an unforgettable individual, who in her astronomy class of six students in 1934 gave us the foundation for interests that continued to grow in the years after. Sleeping on a hilltop in Girl Scout Camp had more meaning when I was able to weave the mythology into viewing Cygnus, Pegasus, Cassiopeia, Orion and their first magnitude stars for the young Scouts. Later while attending Boston University, as I walked around Boston Commons a bit lonely from feeling so far from home, my familiar constellations overhead reminded me that I was not completely in strange surroundings.

Visions come to mind now of the frail but dynamic body of Miss Strong, ever clad in her characteristic shoe top length skirts and plain black lace shoes, meeting us on campus at 4 a.m., lugging and setting up the telescope in order that we might feel the thrill of observing Saturn’s rings, Jupiters moons and craters on our own moon.

Her character was epitomized in her admonition to us when we wrote our term papers for using ideas in our papers without giving credit to sources. In order to free us from being “penalized for plagiarism” she returned our papers for adding foot notes giving credit to sources of information, teaching a lesson which I did not forget.

Miss Strong was a truly remarkable person, memories of whom are not dimmed by the years. Her small frame, large expressive eyes and hair in a que at the back of her head gave her a unique, but all knowing look.

© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2021