Charles A. Grobe Jr.

Charles A. Grobe Jr.Professor of Mathematics Emeritus, died on September 29, 2016, in Brunswick.

President Rose sent the following message to the Bowdoin community on October 3, 2016:

To the Bowdoin community,

I am sorry to report the death of Professor of Mathematics Emeritus Charles A. Grobe Jr., who passed away last Thursday in Brunswick following a long illness. Chuck would have turned eighty-two years old later this month.

Chuck taught at Bowdoin for thirty-five years, and his former students and colleagues carry with them fond memories of his sharp, dry wit and never-failing good humor. He was born in Saginaw, Michigan, (October 21, 1934) and earned BS (1956), MS (1960), and PhD (1964) degrees at the University of Michigan. He married Elizabeth (Betsey) Mendell in 1959, and the Grobes moved in 1964 to Brunswick and to Bowdoin, where Chuck had been hired as an instructor in mathematics. He became an assistant professor the following year and rose through the ranks, being appointed professor of mathematics in 1975.

Chuck was known for his precision and punctuality—someone who enjoyed teaching 8:00 a.m. classes and whose writing on the blackboard was described by colleagues as “a work of art.” He was an avid photographer with a passion for Volvos and his family home on Little Deer Isle. In 1968 he was joined on Bowdoin’s faculty by his wife, Betsey, a mathematician in her own right (PhD, University of Michigan) and the first woman to have a faculty appointment at Bowdoin.

Chuck served several terms as chair of the department. He coauthored A Mathematical Approach to Biology with the late John Howland ’57 and collaborated with Betsey and another colleague on a student solutions manual for elementary linear algebra. From 1966 through 1969, he served as the associate director of Bowdoin’s Academic Year Institute, a program funded by the National Science Foundation that enabled secondary school teachers to earn master’s degrees in one year. He not only taught at Bowdoin but was an active participant in the life of the College, serving as a member of numerous faculty committees, including the Administrative Committee, the Financial Aid and Awards Committee, and the Bias Incident Group, among others. He also served as faculty liaison for the Goldwater Scholarship Program. Upon his retirement in December of 1999, Chuck was made an honorary member of the Bowdoin Alumni Association and was elected to emeritus status by the board of trustees.

Memorial arrangements are pending and will be shared with the Bowdoin community when they become available.

Chuck—a devoted husband, father, and grandfather—is survived by Betsey, their sons Carl and Fritz, and two grandchildren. We share with them a deep sense of loss at his passing. The integrity, compassion, courage, and dignity that were hallmarks of Chuck’s life and career are an enduring legacy and an inspiration to us all.