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Uncle Gene Udell

Gene Udell 1934Gene Udell 2008This is a real bummer. Gene Udell, one of the great men who made SGF into the life-changing experience for those who followed, died in November 2008 at age 92. We just saw Gene the previous month at the Udells' 26th Annual SGF Reunion. Gene was not well, but he loved SGF and the reunions so much that he arranged to be transported to Val's house in an ambulance (see pic).

Although I met the Udell brothers for the first time at their 90th birthday party, in a way I’ve known them as long as I could read.  You see, Gene and Val were in my mother’s Gratz High School graduating class, June 1934. HOF counselor Even as a little boy, I’d pore through her yearbook, looking at the silly mid-1930s hairdos and outfits.  And I’d always come to the end of the seniors’ section where Gene and Val were listed, consecutively but on different pages, as if the editor wanted to ensure that neither twin’s achievements could be directly compared to those of his brother.  I’m attaching those yearbook pages [Gene] [Val] to make a point. 

Clearly, the Udell brothers were the cream of the June 1934 Gratz High School crop; Val was Class President and Gene was Student Association President. They went on to have fulfilling careers, but they were always part of SGF.  They ran the camp, built the traditions and hired successors like Mel Drukin who continued to grow SGF.  When SGF got the Udell brothers, we got the absolute best and there is a direct connection from Gene and Val to what we are trying to achieve today.

- Mark Blass, November 2008

The Many Faces of Gene Udell - Hall of Fame Counselor and Co-Director

Gene Udell 1934 Gene 1935 Gene 1937 Gene 1937
Gene 1934
Gene 1935
Gene 1937
Gene 1937

Gene's Obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer

Eugene Udell, veteran Temple administrator

By Sally A. Downey Inquirer Staff Writer

Eugene Udell, 92, of Rydal, an educator and administrator at Temple University for almost 40 years, died of heart failure Nov. 12 [2008] at his home.

In 1963, Dr. Udell became the first dean of the newly created Ambler Campus of Temple. Within the first week, the dormitory burned to the ground, he recalled at the campus' 40th anniversary. Working round the clock, Dr. Udell and his staff cut red tape and rented mobile all-purpose campers, and classes began on schedule.

He later oversaw construction of buildings at Ambler and inaugurated a bus service to the train station and to the main campus in North Philadelphia.

In 1967, Dr. Udell was named Temple's vice provost for student affairs. The title was later changed to associate vice president for student services. In the 1970s he returned to teaching as a professor of science education. He retired in 1985.

Dr. Udell grew up in North Philadelphia and joined the Boy Scouts, where he developed his lifelong interest in botany and zoology. After graduating from Simon Gratz High School, he earned a bachelor's degree from Temple and then taught science at Swarthmore Junior High School for several years. As a young man he was a counselor and codirector of the Samuel G. Friedman Vacation Camp in Collegeville, and he attended a camp reunion in October 2007.

During World War II, Dr. Udell was a Navy pilot and navigator in the South Atlantic.

After his discharge, he earned a master's degree in science education from Temple. He then joined Temple's faculty and was the first director of audiovisual services.

He took a leave from Temple in the 1950s to work toward his doctorate in education at Columbia University, where he met his future wife, Anita Magistro.

In the early 1960s, he and his wife and two children spent 15 months in New Delhi on a project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development to introduce audiovisual aids to educators in India. He created a stunning series of color slides to document his travels, his wife said, and developed a taste for Indian food, which he transmitted to his grandchildren.

Dr. Udell was a volunteer docent at the Philadelphia Zoo for 20 years. An accomplished potter and silkscreener, he applied both skills to create tiles decorated with wildflowers and herbs.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, Dr. Udell is survived by a son, Jon; a daughter, Ruth Kunstadter; a twin brother, Val; and five grandchildren.

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