The University Record, February 12, 2001


Gilbert Brooks Lee

Gilbert B. Lee passed away Jan. 19 at his home in Phoenix, Ariz. He was the beloved patriarch of the Lee family and an Ann Arbor resident from the mid-’50s to the early ’90s. Gilbert’s passing was peaceful in his sleep, befitting his long involvement in the peace and antiwar movements so popular in the Ann Arbor area. Gilbert was the senior researcher at the Vision Research Laboratories at the University from the late ’50s until his retirement in the mid-’80s.

Gilbert was active locally as a leader in the Boy Scouts of America, as well as a stalwart in the Democratic Party for most of his life in Ann Arbor. His actions and character were a blessing and comfort to all who knew him, and his compassion and grace filled our life as his children.

Gil served in World War II as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers. In the ’50s and ’60s, he remained active in the Army Reserve. Throughout his long life, his considerate and constant involvement in his community were simply how he chose to be. He will be missed and remembered for a long time.

Gilbert is survived by Thomas Stearns Lee of Kingman, Ariz.; Jane Lee Cummings of Salinas, Calif.; Frederick “Ric” Cabot Lee of Tucson, Ariz.; and Gilbert Eliot Frazar Lee of Phoenix. Sympathies and prayers may be sent to Donations on his behalf should go to the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.

Submitted by the family

Jack E. McLaughlin

The Department of Mathematics sadly reports the passing of Prof. Emeritus Jack E. McLaughlin Jan. 12.

Born in St. Maries, Idaho, in 1923, McLaughlin received his B.S. from the University of Idaho in 1944. His studies were interrupted during World War II, when he served in the U.S. Navy for two years. He received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1950.

McLaughlin joined the University as an instructor in 1950, was promoted to associate professor in 1958 and to professor in 1963. He retired from the Department of Mathematics in 1994. He was considered an excellent and demanding teacher, especially of honors students who sought his courses to measure their ability. McLaughlin helped guide these students as chair of the honors program for several years. He had a unique success in impressing undergraduates with the beauty of math and the pleasure of discovery after intense effort. He directed 19 doctoral theses, and many of his students have become leaders in their field of interest.

In 1986, McLaughlin was given the Amoco Foundation Good Teaching Award. In the letters of recommendation that were submitted by his former students, an overwhelming number of them cited McLaughlin as the best and most inspiring teacher they had in their academic careers. The mastery of the subject he displayed in his teaching influenced many of his students to choose a career in mathematics.

Over his career, McLaughlin’s research ranged widely, encompassing several subfields of algebra—lattice theory, finite groups and commutative algebra. He discovered one of the sporadic finite simple groups, that of order 898,128,000, which now bears his name. He also participated in the discovery of a module of finite projective dimension with a negative intersection multiplicity. His work on group cohomology, most of which passed on through the writings of his students, has had an important impact on the field. He was well respected by his colleagues in the field. Paul Halmos, his colleague here at Michigan, once said that there are usually a number of ways to tackle a mathematical problem, but when all else fails, ask McLaughlin.

While enjoying the intellectual challenges of mathematics, McLaughlin had to overcome the physical challenges of multiple sclerosis. He lived with the disease for the last 30 years of his life. McLaugh-lin’s physical challenges rarely limited him in his teaching, research or academic activities.

McLaughlin was preceded in death by his wife, Doris. He is survived by his mother, Butrice McLaughlin (age 101), and his sister, Vivian O’Connor, and her husband, Arthur. The Department of Mathematics will host a memorial service for McLaughlin at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Alumni Center. The service will be followed immediately by a reception, also at the Alumni Center.

Submitted by the Department of Mathematics