Duke University Team Page
Durham, NC - James Bonk, a longtime Duke University chemistry professor, died on Friday. He was 82.
Bonk, born Feb. 6, 1931 in Michigan, began teaching chemistry at the university in 1959, and became so synonymous with the subject matter that his 30,000 or so students over the years called his general chemistry classes "Bonkistry."
"There was a period of time when I had written the lab manual and I had written the text and I had written the problem book and I gave all the lectures, so the only thing they ever saw was me when it was associated with chemistry," Bonk said in a 2010 interview. "I was chemistry to them."
Along with his 53 years of teaching chemistry, Bonk also helped build the university's tennis team and served as the director for undergraduate education in his department.
But he was perhaps most notorious for the flat tire story, which went something like this: Four of his students, who had performed well on all their tests and quizzes and had solid A's, decided to go to Virginia to party the weekend before the final exam. They made it back Monday just before the exam, but werenâ€'t ready to take it. So they found Bonk, told him they had gotten a flat tire and asked to take the test later. He said okay.
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