Joe Diblin ’40, M’46, G’09
World War II aviator, test pilot and newspaper columnist Joe Diblin ’40, M’46, G’09 died Jan. 7 in Northumberland, Pa., at age 103.

Diblin was recruited to play basketball at Bucknell in 1936, the heart of the Great Depression. Thanks to the ingenuity and generosity of many Bucknell employees — in athletics, student housing and even President Arnaud Marts, who hired Diblin as his driver — he was able to earn the money to finance his education. According to another former Bucknell president, Gary Sojka H’09, the support Diblin received made a lasting impact: “Joe was always quick to point out that he began to fully understand the value of kindness when he was at Bucknell.”

After his service in World War II, Diblin returned to Bucknell for a master’s degree and a close relationship with another president, Herbert Spencer, who asked Diblin to teach him to fly and to help establish Bucknell’s ROTC program. Diblin taught and coached soccer at Bucknell before joining Lycoming Engines, where he served as chief test pilot before retirement in 1980. He wrote a Sunday column for The Daily Item for many years, until his death.

“Many attribute Joe’s unusually long life to his careful diet and the fact that he worked out seven days a week until he was well past 100 years of age, while others felt it was because he kept his mind sharp by writing his weekly column for the newspaper,” Sojka said. “But I always felt it was his sense of humor and his interest in the welfare of others that kept him young in spirit and hence in body.”

Survivors include daughters Kathy Alfino, Susan Eurich and Lynn Leibig P’09 and grandson Brent Leibig ’09. Memorial contributions may be made at or via check to Bucknell University, 301 Market St., Suite 2, Lewisburg PA 17837.