You are here

Don Kreider, MAA President 1993-1994, dies suddenly on December 7

Donald L. Kreider, MAA Treasurer 1989-1991, President-elect, 1992, and President 1993-1994, passed away unexpectedly on December 7, 2006. Don spent his academic career at Dartmouth College, starting in 1960 after receiving his doctoral degree in mathematical logic from MIT and spending a postdoctoral year there. At Dartmouth Don served twice as chair of the Department of Mathematics and as Vice-President of the College under the Presidency of John Kemeny, his friend and mentor. Don’s heart was in teaching, however. In an interview with Don Albers, Focus, June, 1993, he talked about the tempo of the academic year which drew him to the classroom. Don Kreider’s work in MAA also started in 1960 and focused on his love of teaching of mathematics. He was very active on a number of MAA committees, notably the Budget Committee and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (CUPM) which publishes Guidelines for the Mathematics Major. In addition to his years in office, Don continued to serve on the Board of Governors in 1995-1999. Don was a leader in the mathematics community in the advent of calculus reform and received one of the first grants in the then new Calculus Initiative launched by NSF in 1989. He was also a founding member of the Mathematical Sciences Education Board (MSEB), and in that capacity was influential in developing the Calculus for a New Century national colloquium.

Professor Kreider authored several mathematics texts: Linear Analysis, with Kuller, Ostberg, and Perkins; Differential Equations, with Kuller and Ostberg; Investigations in Mathematics, with La Torre and Proctor; and Case Studies in Calculus with Dwight Lahr. He also participated in the MAA CUPM reports on the undergraduate program in mathematics and the mathematical preparation of teachers.

Don Kreider is best remembered for his caring and gentle leadership. He handled many difficult situations while MAA Treasurer and President. He always did so quietly, tactfully, and decisively. Former President Lida Barrett says, “Don Kreider provided leadership to MAA in a wide variety of roles. He knew how to get things done in a quiet gentle manner, often seeing what needed to be done before it became known, and taking care of things without seeking credit. I enjoyed working with him on the finance committee and as Treasurer when I was President. His many contributions to MAA activities have had long term effects.” Former President Ken Ross has similar impressions of Don, “He was a very thoughtful, tactful and caring guy, both when he was Treasurer and when he was President. He had those characteristics at other times, too, such as when he was on the Budget Committee. I was Secretary when he was Treasurer and I was President when he was Past President, and I often consulted him on issues, especially sensitive ones. I was elected President of the MAA to serve immediately after Don, and I really did not like having to follow him, because I felt he was an impossible act to follow.”

Marcia Sward was Executive Director of MAA when Don was President. Marcia remembers first meeting Don. She was applying for the position of MAA Associate Executive Director and on the day of the interview decided to quietly slip a cover letter to go with her application into the mail slot early in the morning before anyone would be there. She was surprised to find a man sitting on the door step, all alone, in front of the still-closed offices. She was even more surprised to learn that he was Don Kreider, the chair of the search committee. Marcia writes, “Wisdom, kindness, and humanity were Don’s hallmarks throughout the twenty years of our professional relationship. Don could always be relied upon to provide thoughtful advice on any issue, to take the high road in any situation, and to cheerfully undertake any task.

“In 1990, when Don was elected to the presidency of the MAA, I was serving as MAA Executive Director. We worked closely together for the two years of his term on issues of particular concern to us both – strengthening the relationships between the MAA and its sibling organizations, and establishing a more welcoming environment for women, particularly in the American Mathematics Competitions. Don led the MAA during those years with statesmanship and diplomacy, approaching issues with unfailing vision and patience. As Treasurer, Don took very seriously the responsibility of insuring that the MAA would be passed on to the next generation in sound fiscal condition.

The MAA has been greatly enriched in its programs, financial management, and culture through Don’s involvement. It is a stronger, more open, welcoming, and collaborative organization because of him. We owe him a great debt of gratitude. He will be sorely missed.

John Kenelly, MAA Treasurer, credits Don Kreider for his leadership as Chair of the College Board Calculus Development Committee and member of the Mathematical Science Advisory Committee in the 1970s. “Don brought immense credibility to the program.” John says that Don pushed the committee to incorporate the use of technology and to write questions that would reflect well on reform calculus today, thirty years later. “The rest of the committee sat in awe of Don Kreider and Winfred Kaplan. We wished we could do calculus one-half as fast as they could.”

Tina, Straley, MAA Executive Director, said the MAA is saddened and diminished by the passing of Don Kreider. He was a leader who made everyone feel welcome and important. “He was so exceptional, so dedicated, and so charming.”

The last line of the FOCUS interview of 1993 expresses his motivation best in Don Kreider’s own words, “We dare not waste one single person who has potential interest in mathematics or teaching.”

Don is survived by his loving companion of more than twenty-six years, William F. White of Sugar Hill, NH. He is also survived by his former wife, Mary Ellen (Galebach) Kreider of Norwich, VT, and their three sons and daughters-in-law, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild. He was predeceased by a brother, Richard Kreider, and two sisters, Rosanna Buch and Janet Knowles.

A Memorial Service will be held at All Saints' Episcopal Church, 35 School Street, Littleton, NH, on Saturday, December 16th at 11:00 a.m. with the Rev. Barbara Thrall as celebrant.  Friends are invited to attend a gathering for remembrance and reflection, in the church hall, following the service. Light refreshments will be provided.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make contributions in Don's memory to the Mathematical Association of America.  Please make checks payable to 'MAA',  write 'In memory of Don Kreider' on the memo line, and send to: 

MAA Headquarters
ATTN: Lisa Kolbe
1529 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036 

News Date: 
Friday, December 8, 2006