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Facilities & Computing > Library > James Gehrig

James Joseph Gehrig

1921 - 2003
(1949 and 1970 photos both courtesy of B. Gehrig)

James Joseph Gehrig was born in 1921 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and moved to Manitowoc, Wisconsin at a young age. He developed a lifelong interest in mathematics while attending high school in Manitowoc, because, as he tells it, “I got good grades in math”! Jim subsequently majored in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin. His studies there were interrupted by World War II, in which he saw combat as a platoon leader in the Philippine Islands, and was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor. In 1946 he resumed his studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison, graduating in ‘49 with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics. He then continued at Wisconsin towards a Master’s degree, and eventually with subsequent course work at the University of Delaware and UCLA over the next few years, while simultaneously starting a family and working, completed his Master of Science in Mathematics, also from University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Jim’s work career started in applied mathematics and modeling at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland from 1949-53, he then moved across the country west to Los Angeles to work for Northrop Aircraft, Inc. as a supervisor in advanced design for 8 years. In 1961 he made his last move, back east again, to Washington D.C., to work as a special assistant to United States Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, who at that time, was a member of the U.S. Senate Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee. Jim became staff director of this committee for 8 years. During these years his wife Susan, and Jim, raised 8 children, instilling in the family an extremely high regard for education. As a result, their children have earned 14 college degrees, including 7 advanced degrees, and they count among them a successful physician, architect, lawyer, health worker, businessmen and women, and two investment bankers.

Throughout his school and work years Jim kept his mathematics books and gradually added to them. Since retiring in 1981 one of his hobbies, along with teaching mathematics at area colleges for 8 years, had been to actively expand this collection, primarily by attending book sales throughout the Washington D.C. area. This resulted in a wonderful, classic collection of more than 2,300 mathematics books which Jim, his wife Susan, and children Jay, Leigh, Wink, Teresa, Renee, Ben, Helen, and Paul, now gladly and with pride and satisfaction, donate to the University of Maryland.