daughter Sandy
Roger & Gloriana

Remembering Roger Sorrells

Roger Sorrells: A Celebration of Life - October 2, 2011, in Pittsburgh - video

Roger's Big Brain - Remembrance by Gloriana St. Clair

READ Valentine 2012 - Featuring sketches of Roger by his daughter, Sandy

Sandy Sorrells' sketches & art - Images by a budding artist


Roger Sorrells was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, on December 15, 1936, the son of B.J. and Maurine C. Sorrells. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics (1960) and a Master’s degree in Mathematics (1962) with a thesis entitled Number Sequences from the University of Texas. In 1961, he married Cynthia Hammond Wickizer, whom he later divorced. They had a daughter Alexandra (Sandy). He taught mathematics at San Antonio College and Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos.

After San Antonio College purchased a PDP11 computer and allowed him to work on it, he became a computer scientist, working on aPh.D. in Computer Science at Texas A&M University from 1971 to 1982. In 1978, he joined the TAMU Computing Services where he eventually became the head of the Help Desk. There, he recruited and trained students to answer questions and assisted many graduate students in troubleshooting their computer programs. According to one student, sitting across from Roger with a program in hand was the ultimate key to success in his doctoral program. In 1991, he received the President’s Meritorious Service Award and, in 1992, retired from his position. He continued to assist with the World Shakespeare Bibliography. He was active in Mothers against Drunk Drivers, Compassionate Friends, and the Lions Club.

He and Gloriana St. Clair came together at Texas A&M in 1984. They subsequently travelled extensively in projects related to digital libraries in general, and the Million Book Project in particular. His interests included walking, biking, hiking spelunking, snorkeling, railroading, reading, nature, science, politics, Shaker craftsmanship and Chautauqua Institution. At Carnegie Mellon University, he was a founding member of the Highlands Circle.

Roger died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 2, 2011, from Advanced Stage Parkinson’s disease.

His daughter Sandy predeceased him when a recidivist drunk driver killed her on New Year’s Eve 1982. His longtime partner Gloriana St. Clair; his brother Mike Sorrells; his dear friends Hal Manzke, Darla Comeaux, and Pam Ferguson; and their families survive him. A host of friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators from hiking and biking, his book groups, the World Shakespeare Bibliography, Carnegie Mellon University libraries, the Million Book Project, and Texas A&M University have lost a great friend.

Friends gathered in Pittsburgh and in Bryan/College Station to remember Roger and share favorite stories celebrating his life. Memorial bike rides were held in his beloved Hill Country and in the Washington D.C. area.

In memory of Roger's love for computing, science and learning, dean of Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Gloriana St. Clair made a gift of $900,000 to name the CMU engineering and science library for him. The university will host the naming ceremony for Roger Sorrells E&S Library on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, from 4-5:30 p.m. (Wean Hall, 4th floor).


Contribute to the Roger Sorrells Engineering & Science Library Endowment > Make a Gift Online > Indicate Library support and Additional Comments: Sorrells.

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