Warnock was the oldest alumnus in attendance at Reunions eight different times, first in 2001 and then from 2006 through 2012. Just a few weeks before his 107th birthday on June 21, he became the first alumnus in the University’s history to celebrate his 87th reunion, according to the Alumni Association.
Warnock led the Old Guard, a group of the oldest alumni, in a golf cart during the P-Rade while carrying the Class of 1923 Cane for each of those years. The Cane is given to the oldest returning graduate of the University at each Reunions and is engraved with each carrier’s name.
“I’ve always enjoyed carrying the cane,” Warnock told Princeton Alumni Weekly at Reunions last year. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Warnock studied history and government during his time at the University. He was also a member of the Glee Club, the banjo club and the orchestra, according to the Alumni Council vice president Margaret Miller ’80. Records do not go back far enough to estimate how often Warnock has attended Reunions, but his daughters Margaret Carlough and Eleanor Warnock said the festivities were the highlight of his year.
“Once a Princetonian, always a Princetonian,” said Tom Meeker ’56, a close friend of Warnock’s. “It never leaves you. It becomes a part of you, and that, I think, was true of Malcolm.”
Warnock left the University after three years and received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia in 1926. Nonetheless, he always felt a stronger connection to the Princeton community and is listed as a member of the Class of 1925. Miller emphasized that any student who matriculates to the University is considered an alumnus whether or not they graduate.
“His affiliation has always been to Princeton,” Miller said. “He [was] a loyal, dedicated [alumnus]. He [was] so special to us.”
Warnock received his law degree from Columbia in 1929. According to Meeker, Warnock was a self-described “damn good” attorney. He was a lawyer for the Manhattan Project during World War II and then for the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company for about 25 years.
Warnock’s daughters said he stayed quite active in his retirement. He played tennis three times a week until he was in his 90s, was very involved in his church — he sang in the choir and taught Sunday school — and was an accomplished amateur painter and actor.
But despite his busy schedule, Warnock made time every year to come back to Old Nassau and the community that meant so much to him.
“He was so proud to come back to Princeton and be a part of Reunions,” Miller said, adding that “he would belt out Old Nassau at the top of his lungs” at the Old Guard Luncheon at Reunions every year.
Eleanor Warnock has vivid memories of the same event.
“You could see heads from across the room turning to look at him,” she said.
Warnock’s daughters added that he adored the University and was a big fan of University President Shirley Tilghman. They said his time at the University sparked his intellectual curiosity, which stayed with him for the rest of his life.
Miller said she is not sure who the next-oldest alumnus to attend Reunions will be.
A memorial service will be held in a few weeks. Memorial contributions can be made to Winchester Gardens Scholarship Fund or to the University.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/11/31477/