Albion Saddened by Passing of Mathematics Emeritus Keith Moore
July 29, 2014 | By Jake Weber
Mathematics professor emeritus W. Keith Moore, 91, passed away July 26 in Marshall, Michigan. A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 9, at 11 a.m. in the Albion First United Methodist Church’s Wesley Chapel.
A native of Wellington, Kansas, Moore entered Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, on a music scholarship. His studies were interrupted by World War II, when he enrolled in the V-12 Navy College Training Program. Commissioned as an ensign, Moore served as a torpedo officer aboard the destroyer USS Chauncey, and saw action in the Battle for Okinawa.
Moore finished his degree at Southwestern College, then earned master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas, where he taught for a year. Coming to Albion in 1952, Moore taught mathematics and astronomy for his first 10 years, despite having no formal training in astronomy. He served as department chair for 18 years, more than half his 34-year tenure.
"If I recall correctly, I took a total of 37 credit hours of mathematics at Albion, all but six taught by Dr. Moore," said Bruce Berndt, '61, who is currently in his 47th year conducting research and teaching mathematics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. "I am certain that none of the other incoming graduate students with me at the University of Wisconsin could claim that they learned all of their mathematics from one person, as I did."
Berndt stresses, however, that math was far from all he learned from Moore. "Keith Moore served as a role model for the kind of person that I wanted to become," he said. "I entered Albion with an addiction to rock and roll and knowledge of only one classical composer. I left with a love of classical music, more in tune with the person that I wanted to emulate. Keith Moore taught me mathematics and served as an example of not only how to teach but how I should live my life."
Ron Fryxell, professor emeritus of mathematics at Albion, said Moore’s mentoring and leadership proved valuable for his colleagues as well.
"Of all the reasons I chose to come to Albion, Keith was probably the biggest one. My impression was that he would be a good person to work with and for," Fryxell said. "In our department, we all took turns teaching most of the courses. Keith made sure we all became really good generalists. As I found out when I got to be chair, it's not an easy job. Keith made it look easy because he was very good at it."
Moore played oboe with the Albion College orchestra for many years and sang in the Albion College Choral Society and in the choir of the Albion First United Methodist Church.
Both professionally and with his family, Moore traveled to the former Soviet Union, Western Europe, Australia, and Turkey. A resident of Albion for 60 years, he served on the boards of the Albion Historical Society and Greater Albion Habitat for Humanity, and was active in Albion's First United Methodist Church, serving as its treasurer for many years. "When we used to keep the books by hand, Keith would do all the addition and subtraction in his head," recalls physics professor emeritus John Williams. "He was definitely good with numbers."
Moore is survived by Mary Margaret, his wife of more than 70 years, and their three sons: David, '68 (Alice Wiley Moore, '73), Donel, '72 (Polly Schweinsberg Moore, '73) and Tim (Pati Scobey). The Moores have seven grandchildren, including Caitlin Moore, '04, and five great-grandchildren. Two daughters, Marianne and Sarah, died in 1988 and 2012.
Memorial contributions may be made to the W. Keith Moore Endowed Scholarship at Albion College or the Albion First United Methodist Church.