Martin Gardner in the Norman Transcript

We thought we would share the obituary submitted by Martin Gardner’s family to the Norman Transcript.  You can find the original here.

Martin Gardner, who is celebrated for his abundant writing in the fields of math, science, philosophy, literary criticism, and magic, died Saturday May 22, 2010 at Norman Regional Hospital, of an unexpected illness. He was born October 21, 1914 in Tulsa Oklahoma, to James H. and Willie (Spiers) Gardner.Martin was married to his wife Charlotte (Greenwald) for 48 years. She preceded him in death in 2000. She was the center of his life, acting as his confidant, loving partner, and frequent proof-reader. In 2002 Martin moved from his retirement home in Hendersonville, NC and returned to Norman, OK to be nearer to family members. He took up residence at The Gardens at Rivermont in their assisted living community.

Martin grew up in Tulsa. After graduating high school he attended the University of Chicago, and graduated in 1936. He returned to Oklahoma and worked briefly as the assistant oil editor for the Tulsa Tribune, but eventually moved back to Illinois to work for the University of Chicago public affairs department, and the Chicago Relief Administration. He enlisted in the Navy in 1941, and served as the yeoman (keeping the ships log) on the U.S.S. Pope (a destroyer escort) during WWII. After the war he settled in the New York City area, where his career as a free-lance writer began to blossom with the publication of his first book entitled In the Name of Science, the first major work to question and criticize pseudoscience. Among other things he wrote for Esquire Magazine and Humpty Dumpty Children’s Magazine. In 1955 he began a monthly column in Scientific American entitled “Mathematical Games,” that continued for 25 years until he retired at age 65, in 1981. He continued to write under a “semi-retired” status, publishing over 30 books and additional essays between 1981 and 2010.

Thomas H. Maugh II, of the Los Angeles Times characterized him as “…a prolific, insightful, concise and clear writer, Gardner was the author of more than 70 books about mathematical puzzles, pseudoscience, philosophy, and the arcana of “Alice and Wonderland,” G.K. Chesterton and other popular works and authors.” Amy Brown of the Washington Post described him to be “…a journalist whose omnivorous curiosity gave rise to wide-ranging writings that popularized mathematics, explored theology and philosophy, debunked pseudoscience and dug into Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s books with the gusto of an investigative reporter.”

He is widely accredited as having launched the fields of skepticism and recreational math. Numerous people with in the fields of math, science, and literature attribute his work as having a strong influence on their decision to pursue careers in these areas. He was a humble, unimposing, private individual, who throughout his career gracefully extended his thoughts and time, either via face-to-face visits or though written correspondence, to students, scholars, professionals, and other individuals, locally and throughout the world.

Martin’s hobbies included close up magic, reading, and playing the musical saw.

He is survived by his sons Thomas Owen Gardner of Ashville, NC, and James Emmett Gardner OK, who is a Professor of Education at OU and his wife Amy Gardner; and his grandchildren, Martin. William, and Kathryn (Katie) Gardner, also of Norman. Honoring the specific request of Mr. Gardner, there will be no funeral service. A celebration of his life is being planned for sometime in the fall.

The family would like to thank the staff of the Rivermont retirement community who assisted him over the past 8 years. The family requests that memorial donations be made to one of the following organizations: The Mishawaka Foundation, 1 Brickyard Drive, Bloomington, IL 61701 [ ] or The James Randi Educational Foundation, 201 S.E. 12th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316-1815, U.S.A. [ ].

— Norman Transcript (Submitted by family)


3 thoughts on “Martin Gardner in the Norman Transcript

  1. I used to love his puzzles in the Scientific American magazine when I was a kid. I didn’t know that he was a fellow musical saw player!

    • No doubt, Mr. Gardner was a man of many talents and will be greatly missed. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Pingback: Gathering for Gardner in Norman, OK (and around the world!) « OU Math Club

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