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A proud Fiji to the end, Brother Gene Cernan ’56 died Jan. 16 at the age of 82.

Known throughout the world as the last man to walk on the moon, Cernan made his famous voyage in December 1972; it was his third trip to space. The 1972 mission to the moon was the last Apollo lunar landing, and it remains the final time man has stepped foot on the moon.

Cernan was the commander of that mission, called Apollo 17. In fact, Cernan turned down the opportunity to become part of Apollo 16 because he wanted to be in charge of his own mission.

Cernan left the space program in 1976, but he was far from retired. In addition to working for different businesses – including his own endeavor, The Cernan Corporation, which was founded in 1981 – he appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” as a regular contributor beginning in 1987.

Cernan later published a memoir, called “The Last Man on the Moon,” published in 1999. In 2016, that book was turned into a documentary of the same name by director Mark Craig.

A Chicago native, Cernan studied electrical engineering at Purdue, where he became a Phi Gamma Delta Brother. In addition to his studies and his commitment to Purdue Fiji, Cernan also found time to join the ROTC while in college. Following graduation, he went to flight school to become an aviator. In addition to logging over 5,000 hours of flight time, he also earned his M.S. in aeronautical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School.

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