Paul L. Estes ’59

Paul L. Estes ’59 died on April 23, 2022, in Concord, New Hampshire

(The following was provided by his family on April 23, 2022)

Paul L. Estes ’59

Paul Livingston Estes was born May 2, 1937, in Lewiston, Maine, to Ruth Abbott Estes (Bishop) and Philip Vernon Estes, and died in Concord, New Hampshire, on April 23, 2022, a few days shy of his 85th birthday. He was the youngest of five children to Ruth and Philip; his siblings were Mary Estes Krohn, Ruth Estes Weeks, Margaret Estes, and Robert Estes. He grew up in Auburn, Maine, graduating in 1955 from Edward Little High School, where he excelled in mathematics, played clarinet and saxophone in the school band, and was a member of the golf team. He graduated Magna cum laude from Bowdoin College with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics in 1959.

After college Paul worked for General Electric for one year in Schenectady, New York, where he regularly caused the mechanical calculating machines to fail by entering numbers too fast, a story he loved to tell in later years. He then served in the US Army Signal Corps from 1960 to 1964, at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and finally Butzbach Kaserne, a US army base in Germany. There, he met his future wife, Gisela Behrendt, whom he married in 1963. Their daughter Heide was born in Butzbach. After his discharge from the army at the rank of captain, he started graduate work at Brown University, Rhode Island, earning a Master of Arts in Teaching. He taught high school mathematics in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, where his son Christopher was born, and in Dover, New Hampshire. He then enrolled in the PhD program at the University of New Hampshire, where he earned his PhD in mathematics under the direction of Professor Richard E. Johnson. His dissertation, “Triangular Block Matrix Rings,” was on ring theory, a branch of abstract algebra.

Paul was hired in 1971 at Plymouth State University (then Plymouth State College), where he taught until his retirement as an emeritus professor in 2006. He was active in the Medieval Forum, and published papers and gave presentations on the role of Arabic philosophers in medieval mathematics history, on mathematics education, and on writing across the curriculum. He spent sabbaticals in Munich and Hamburg, Germany, studying comparative methods of mathematics education and advocating for the adoption of both the metric system and more holistic mathematics pedagogies to help reduce math anxiety and increase mathematics literacy among students in the United States. He and Gisela, who taught German at PSU, endowed three scholarships at the University for the study of German and mathematics.

Paul was an enthusiastic athlete and was always game for adventure. He hiked all of New England’s four-thousand-footers, several of Colorado’s “fourteeners,” the John Muir Trail in California including Mt. Whitney, and Hadrian’s Wall in northern England; canoed the Allagash (Maine) and Buffalo (Arkansas) rivers and rafted the Grand Canyon; played on local basketball and hockey teams; ran road races; skied and snowshoed; and excelled in a regional racquetball league. With various members of the extended family, he has also done much hiking in Colorado, Germany, and Switzerland.

In addition to Gisela, Heide and her partner, Catherine Duckett, and Christopher, Paul is survived by a brother, Robert Estes and his wife, Lois; three half-sisters, Allison Wallace Estes and her husband, GL Estes Wallace, Penny Estes, and Philis Rogers; a half-brother, Philip Estes; a grandson, Zeke Estes Morse; nieces Carolyn Bumatay and her husband, Randolph, and Robina Behrendt; nephews Harold Weeks III, Robert Estes Jr. and his wife, Shari, Richard Estes and his wife, Margueritta, Alexandre Saad and his wife, Christiane, Mark Behrendt and his wife, Ute Fischer, Uwe Behrendt and his wife, Claudia, Edward Behrendt, Jordan Browne, Xander Browne, and Orion Browne; and numerous beloved cousins, great-nieces and -nephews, and other relations.

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