Remembering John Simpson


‚ÄčA Remembrance of John Simpson


It's been 54 years, but still I have this image of John Simpson in my mind as if it were yesterday:  tall and lanky, with wavy reddish hair,  carrying a big brief case and wearing a two foot long slide rule on his belt like a Samurai sword.


All the classes seemed so easy for John, though he was especially good at mathematics.


In our senior year, a local mathematics genius had recently solved one of the many unsolved problems in the field of mathematics.  Because he was local, Mrs. Sturm asked “Math Genius” (as I shall call him) if he would do a presentation of his solution to the Butler High School math classes.  Math Genius agreed to her request. 


The presentation was to be done in the auditorium and several portable blackboards were set up on the stage.  All the math classes and teachers were assembledand Math Genius began his presentation, filling the blackboards with complex calculations.  A  few minutes into the presentation, he lost me.  About 2/3rds of the way through the presentation, he lost himself.   As he went agonizing through his calculations, trying to find the error, the math teachers all tried to help him, but to no avail.  I really think the teachers were completely lost, too.  As for the most of us, we were squirming in our seats, bored to death and thinking, “Can we get out of here?” 


However, I noticed that John Simpson, sitting 2 seats away from me, was intensely reviewing the calculations on the blackboards.  Then, he held up his hand and said, “Sir, I think I know where the error is.”  He proceeded to point to a group of entries with one entry, in particular, as the culpritMath Genius said “Oh yes!  That's it!”  Math Genius made the correction and was able to finish his presentation.


I was impressed - not with Math Genius - but with John.  Our John Simpson not only was able to follow the advanced math concept that Math Genius was presenting, but when Math Genius made an error, John could correct him.


Impressed ?  ActuallyI was WOWED.


Rest in peace, our brilliant classmate.


Jack Smith