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Richard Guy, 97, Climbs Tower for Charity

In this his twelfth year participating in the Climb for Wilderness, Richard K. Guy ascended the 802 stairs of the Calgary Tower twice and raised more than $4,000 for the Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA). Guy, University of Calgary professor emeritus of mathematics, will turn 98 in September.

Rising 626 feet above downtown Calgary, the Calgary Tower is the site of the AWA’s annual charity stair-climbing race, held each Earth Day to increase public awareness of wilderness, wildlife, and wild water in Alberta. The event raises funds for the AWA through sponsorships collected by climbers, who have four hours to complete as many ascents as they can.

Often mentioned in the same breath as John Conway and Paul Erdős, Richard Guy is a towering figure in mathematics, and one with numerous MAA connections. Guy has written and edited books for the MAA, and is currently at work on a volume titled Fair Games.

Guy won the Lester R. Ford Award in 1989 for “The Strong Law of Small Numbers” (The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 95 (1988), pp. 585-608), in which he examined apparent patterns that do not hold up under scrutiny and argued in light of these that “there aren’t enough small numbers to meet the many demands on them.”

Guy served as MAA Governor-at-Large for Canadian Membership from February 2010 to January 2013.

Richard Guy in the Calgary Tower stairwell with a photograph of his late wife Louise. (Photo credit: K. Mihalcheon)

Guy first participated in the Climb for Wilderness in 2002, when he was 85. Until her death in 2010, Guy’s wife Louise also climbed.

“Louise was passionately keen about the outdoors and keeping the planet clean, and I wasn't far behind,” recalls Guy. “So I was happy to support her, and now to perpetuate her memory, in supporting the Alberta Wilderness Association.”

Guy ascended the stairs this year bearing a photograph of Louise.

Besides being the oldest participant in the 2014 Climb, Guy also received the award for Top Fundraising Individual. And his race day total only continues to grow, as more friends and fans learn that they can still support the nonagenarian’s efforts with an online donation.

AWA Executive Director Christyann Olson calls Guy an important part of the organization’s Earth Day celebration and reports that other participants in the Climb eagerly await his arrival on the morning of the event.

“He is an inspiration and makes a big impression on folks as he takes his time and paces his ascent,” Olson says. “He is indeed a role model and concerned citizen whose support for Alberta's wilderness and wildlife is untiring.”—Katharine Merow

News Date: 
Friday, May 2, 2014