Jim Gamrat is a thrower on the Muhlenberg track and field team. On Friday, life threw him a hurdle.
On the day Gamrat was looking forward to the Mules’ lone home meet of the indoor season, he received some horrible news: his academic advisor and research advisor, Dr. Charles Russell, had passed away suddenly overnight.
Gamrat had talked to Russell just the day before about their organic chemistry research project. They were trying to find an asymmetric ligand to use in a Heck reaction.
“We were really close,” said the junior. “He was an easygoing guy and a great teacher. He loved teaching. I really wanted to be a part of his research team. He was just an awesome guy.”
Muhlenberg head coach Brad Hackett said that when Gamrat reported for the meet Friday afternoon, he had a “stunned look” on his face. A memorial service for Russell was scheduled for 3:30, and the shot put wasn’t scheduled to begin until 4:00.
“I’m going to the memorial service, and then I’m coming back to throw,” Gamrat told Hackett.
“I did feel well enough to compete,” said Gamrat after the meet. “I tried to throw well for him, but it was difficult. It kept popping into my head, and that kind of clouded everything.”
Gamrat, who received plenty of support from two close-knit groups, the large track and field teams and the small chemistry department, finished seventh with a throw of 38-1¼. In was not his personal best, but it was still a noteworthy personal accomplishment.
“It was a tough day,” Gamrat said. “But we had to carry on.”
Charles Russell memorial page: http://pr.blogs.muhlenberg.edu/muhlenberg-college-mourns-the-loss-of-professor-charles-russell/