Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Remembrances of Dr. Chev. John Edgar Endicott, President of Woosong University, Air Force Colonel, and Knight Grand Cross of the Pontifical Order of the Eagle

Personal article by H.H. Bishop Rutherford I of Rome-Ruthenia

3 July 2024


Dr. John Endicott (1936-2024), an old friend and mentor of more than 20 years, died a week and a half ago. And so I will share some personal remembrances of him.

It was a funny way that he and I met. He was Director of the Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy (CISTP) at Georgia Tech while I was in graduate school at the Georgia Tech School of Economics. I was walking down the hall of the main liberal arts building when I passed him. He was wearing a three-piece suit with pocket watch -- and it was like I was looking in the mirror. I said "I have one of those," and he smiled and replied "Good!" We kept walking. The next time I was in the building for class, I also was in a three-piece suit with pocket watch. We soon became friends, with common interests ranging from military as brother officers to international culture. You could easily spot either of us around the Georgia Tech campus - suit, tie, and fedora. (I also discovered later that he spoke Russian, which was definitely a point in his favor.)

Col. John Endicott (left) and Bishop Rutherford I (right)
in the president's office at Woosong University

Meanwhile, around the time I was finishing my PhD at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Endicott had become President of Woosong University and Vice Chancellor of the SolBridge International School of Business in Daejeon, South Korea. He invited me to become a member of the original faculty. He said "You are the first person the new team has decided to hire. So, you will be representing us all and we know you will do absolutely great," so how could I turn it down when he put it like that? I accepted the offer and moved to the Land of the Morning Calm.  

Living in South Korea was a very enjoyable time, and some of my favorite memories include morning coffee regularly in the president's office, he and his wife, Mitsuyo (known to their friends as Mitchie) making pancakes for me at their apartment to go with the maple syrup I brought back as a gift for them from Maine, and going out for miso soup. Endicott and I were also fencing partners. He was rather good with a foil (my preferred blade), and it certainly helped to keep us in shape. He and his wife were also regular participants with the ballroom dance class that I started for faculty, staff, and students on campus (which was part of the recollections he kindly included about me in his memoirs he published several years ago). And, when we founded the St Jude University Chapel, he was one of the regular congregants. In fact, he was often "pressed into service" as the Lector at the liturgy.

Col. Endicott reading the lesson at a liturgy at
the Solbridge International School of Business, with
Bishop Rutherford (then Bishop of the Southwest) to the left.

Endicott and the faculty accomplished quite a lot at Solbridge. One of the most memorable accomplishments was hosting the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Northeast Asia conference, which Endicott had founded some years ago. In my role as director of special projects, I helped to organise the event, which hosted government officials and academics from around the world. 

L-R: Col. Endicott, Bishop Rutherford I, and US Ambassador Kelly
at the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone of Northeast Asia
conference held at Solbridge

For a while I was, in addition to my faculty role, effectively Endicott's personal assistant, which was very enjoyable and reminded me of our time back at Georgia Tech. Once I came in late to a meeting of the president's cabinet being held on a particularly hot day, and he was a bit annoyed at me -- until he saw that the reason I was late was that I had been all the way across town at an Italian gelateria that I had recently discovered and brought back gelato for everyone to help combat the oppressive heat. 

Col. Endicott was always proud of his Campbell ancestry,
so he wore his Campbell tartan kilt to culture events
at Solbridge. To keep him company at one of the
 events, I had my royal Stuart kilt shipped to me.

Since we both had long-standing connections to Georgia Tech, one thing I know we were both particularly proud of was establishing the 2+2 dual degree programme between Solbridge and Georgia Tech. He and I, among a number of others, put a lot of work into that effort. Once the programme was set, I ended up teaching mathematics and physics courses in order to help our students meet the requirements for Georgia Tech. That was definitely something I did not expect to be doing as an economics professor! 

Dr. Endicott (back row third from right) and Bishop Johnson (upper left),
along with other key faculty and administrators at the
signing ceremony for the Dual Degree programme
between Georgia Tech and Solbridge

When I left the University (and Korea), the last dinner in Daejeon included my wife and I with John and Michie, as well as the Korean vice-president who had "adopted" me as my "big brother." It was a very pleasant evening, and they presented me with a commendation letter thanking me for my years of service helping to build Solbridge into what it was. (Today Solbridge is a highly ranked international business school, and Woosong university is recognized as a top tier University in Korea.)

John Endicott remains one of the most interesting, distinguished, and memorable people I have ever had the privilege of calling a friend. Unfortunately other obligations prevented me from flying to Georgia for the funeral last week. However, the Divine Liturgy of the Dead will be celebrated here in his memory soon.