Lieutenant James Malcolmson Rumple

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of U.S. participation in World War I, Special Collections continues its examination of the impact that the war had on NC State students, faculty, and the campus. In this post, we examine the life of James Malcolmson "Malcolm" Rumple of NC State's Class of 1917.

Malcolm Rumple was the only son of Jane Vardell and  James Wharton Rumple, a prominent lawyer who tragically drowned in the Shenandoah River when Malcolm was just a child.  Malcolm Rumple left his hometown of Davidson, NC and embraced campus life at NC State College, joining the Mechanical Engineering Society and the "Saints" club (one of the most exclusive social clubs on campus).  He played centerfield and infield for the baseball team and left end for the football team.  He also served as assistant editor for the Agromeck (yearbook) and chairman of the Pan-Hellenic Society, and he made the Honor Roll during two years.  The 1917 Agromeck described him as "a moral, mental, and physical man - ready to stick up for anything that is right and honorable; an all 'round good fellow and one of our shining marks in scholarship."  He graduated in 1917 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Page from the 1917 Agromeck

Like so many young State College graduates at the time, Rumple had almost no time to embark on a career before the war swept him up.  By November 1917, just months after graduation, the Alumni News reported him as a second lieutenant commissioned at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia (by the end of the war he held the rank of first lieutenant).  He deployed (as part of the "Field and Staff") with the 1st Trench Mortar Battalion, C.A.C.  By February 1918, he was in the trenches in France, as he wrote his mother and which she relayed to the Charlotte Observer and subsequently the Alumni News

"He has had the thrilling experience of getting to and into the trenches, first in the dry, and then in the rain, snow and mud, and of hearing the big guns roar and the shells whine.  He says a few of these shells one doesn't mind, but after a bit it begins to get on one's nerves.  One never knows exactly where the next one will hit, and the whining can be heard for a mile. He spent some time crawling out over the snow looking for a Hun [German], but got no chance to try his marksmanship."

Indeed, from the social milieu of college life to trench warfare, life had changed quite a bit for Rumple and his fellow soldiers.  By April 1918 however, he was registered with the American University Union in Europe at the Paris headquarters.  The American University Union in Europe was formed in 1917 by fifteen accredited universities and colleges to satisfy the educational needs of young men in service.  The Union maintained the Palace Hotel in Paris as a meeting place for college age men, and it included some home comforts, such as restaurants, libraries, and mail offices.  The April 1918 Alumni News relayed that NC State had recently become a member of the Union, so no doubt many alumni and student soldiers took solace there.

After the war, Rumple worked for the Engineering Chemical Construction Company in Columbus, Ohio (according to the May 1921 Alumni News), then he represented the Chemical Construction Company of Charlotte and traveled in Mexico (May 1925 Alumni News).  Eventually, he made his way to Puerto Rico, where he died at the age of 47 and was buried in the Puerto Rico National Cemetery in 1940.

Other Special Collections News Articles about World War I

Preparing for World War I

NC State During World War I

Robert Opie Lindsay, North Carolina's Only Flying Ace

Who was Eliza Riddick?

From Somewhere in France: Letters from Alumni in World War I

World War I and Agriculture

Fred Barnett Wheeler: Alumnus, Soldier, Councilman, Mayor

Agricultural Patriotism During World War I