Aug. 1, 1935 – Dec. 31, 2012

Elton Wayne Chambless of Buffalo, a longtime teacher and former acting headmaster at the Calasanctius School, died of lung cancer Monday in St. John Baptist Hospice House. He was 77.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tenn., he was a graduate of Memphis State University, after which he served in the Air Force as an aerial photographer.

In 1960, Mr. Chambless received a National Defense Education Act scholarship and moved to Buffalo to pursue graduate studies in English at the University of Buffalo.

While still a graduate student, he also began teaching at Buffalo State College.

During this time period, Mr. Chambless was approached by the Rev. Stephen Gerencser, founder and headmaster of Calasanctius Preparatory School for the Gifted, to teach English at the school.

The school was run by the Piarists, an order of priests founded by Joseph Calasanctius in the 17th century. Most of the faculty were not native English speakers, having recently immigrated from Hungary, underscoring the importance of Mr. Chambless’ position at the school.

Though he intended to take up only temporary residence at the school, his tenure spanned the breadth of his teaching career from 1965 until the school closed in 1991.

During that time, he also served as chairman of the English Department, acting headmaster, dean of students and head of the upper school, as well as president and chief negotiator for the teachers union at the school.

“Mr. Chambless’ teaching methods were inspirational and indelible,” said David Plache, a 1975 graduate.

Mr. Chambless is survived by two nieces .

A memorial gathering will be in the spring.