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Remembering Jerry Gamache

Sep 24, 2013
by Staff

Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Gamache, former associate professor of Psychology at Flagler, passed away in Jacksonville this past May. He joined Flagler as a visiting instructor in 1992, and was hired full-time in 1996. A recognized authority on the effects of radiation, he headed the U.S. Government’s Defense Nuclear Agency Team and studied the effects of the nuclear reactor explosion in Chernobyl through numerous trips to the area. 

His research was later adapted for use with Russian cosmonauts. He and his wife, Dr. Mili Koger, supported the college financially, including a commitment to name the Gamache-Koger Theater Classroom in the Ringhaver Student Center.

A tribute from a former student:

Susan Schuh, a ‘99 graduate and student of Gamache, now works at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where she leads and Operational Habitability Team that studies what life is like aboard the International Space Station. She wrote this tribute about Gamache.

As a teacher and a friend, Dr. Gamache was insightful, honest and always a wealth of information. Just his life experiences alone were subject enough to write several books. He encouraged me and other students to get involved and get excited about psychology and human factors. In my own studies at Flagler and later for my graduate school research, he provided me with a broad and interesting knowledge base to build on. He then took extra time and care to help me focus on the specific topics that interested me and guided me through the completion of my research.

To know Dr. Gamache was to love him. Sure some folks might have found his 8 a.m. Child Psychology lectures boring, but if you actually took time to talk to him, he would flat out tell you that it bored him, too. It was not necessarily his area of expertise or interest. But ask him about human factors and his smile would light up the room. Human factors meant nothing to me prior to meeting Dr. Gamache. But after hearing him explain the course, I was inspired and excited to learn more.

His passion and interest was contagious and helped me believe and stay inspired to pursue a graduate degree in the field and build an exciting career. Any encounter with Dr. Gamache was greeted with a warm hug and the comfort that I knew I was in the presence of greatness. It was an honor to me to be mentored by someone who has made such amazing contributions to the world at large, on so many levels. Not only was he a mentor to me, but he felt like a family member who guided my efforts and taught me many lessons both in school and life.

He lived and led by example, and no matter the challenge, he was always looking out for ways to design for and provide for the greater good. He persevered through so much in his life and was always working toward the great good whether it be to derive lessons learned from the Chernobyl disaster, his early work with the Navy, his tenure at Flagler and support of his graduates as they pursued advanced degrees.

He was a special person and narrowing down his contributions to one that I consider most important seems almost impossible. But his impacts on our world are vast and will be felt for generations to come.

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