Beloved math prof. dies over break
By Zach Swiss, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, January 4, 2007
Dr. Donald Kreider, a professor emeritus in the mathematics and computer science departments and a former chairman of the mathematics department, died of a heart attack on Dec. 7, 2006, at the age of 75.
Kreider was raised in Lititz, Pa. He attended Lebannon Valley College as an undergraduate and then earned his doctorate in mathematical logic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959. While teaching as a graduate student, Kreider was awarded the Goodwin Medal, MIT's highest honor for a graduate student teacher.
In 1960, Kreider joined the Dartmouth faculty as a professor of mathematics and computer science. Professor Kreider twice served as the chairman of the mathematics department and, during President John Kemeny's administration, served as the vice president and dean of Student Affairs.
"He was a very popular teacher," Thomas Shemanske, chairman of the mathematics department, said. "He had a wonderful easygoing style. There's a lot of work in computer science and to watch all these demonstrations that Kreider would give, the students were really engaged. He always managed to have the pulse of his class."
In the 1960's, Kreider traveled to Africa for three summers as a member of the Entebbe Project, where he helped create new mathematics curricula, textbooks and teacher training materials for village schools.
As a member of the College Board in the 1970's, Professor Kreider helped develop the first Advanced Placement test in computer science.
Professor Kreider was also active in the Mathematics Association of America. He was a member of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics and also served as the MAA's treasurer from 1989 to 1991, president from 1993 to 1994 and on the Board of Governors from 1995 to 1999.
As an undergraduate, Dr. Stephen Garland '63 took mathematics classes taught by Kreider.
"Professor Kreider wasn't theatrical; he was just a very good teacher without calling much attention to himself," Garland said.
After graduating, Garland joined the Dartmouth faculty as a Computer Science and Mathematics professor where he worked alongside Professor Kreider for 17 years. At Kreider's memorial service, Professor Garland told memories of his friend and colleague.
"I remember climbing Mt. Washington and we were coming down and as we were coming down he started running down," Garland said. When Garland asked him why he was running, Kreider replied that he was less likely to trip if he kept moving fast.
By the time Dwight Lahr joined the mathematics department as a junior professor, Dr. Kreider was a well-respected senior professor with many years of experience.
"One of the things that stood out to me right away was that, even though I didn't know him, he provided great support to junior faculty like myself," Lahr said. "We would do team teaching and he would talk to me in very supportive ways. He was one of the best professors in the department and his attitude was that other faculty had things to contribute that he wanted to be part of, if he could. He was just one of the most open people that I've known."
In 1997 Professor Kreider retired from teaching and then split his time between Sugar Hill, N.H., and Jamaica Plain, Mass. At the time of his death, he was collaborating with two Dartmouth colleagues, Dwight Lahr and Susan Diesel, on a project called "Principles of Calculus Modeling -- An Interactive Approach."
"Even though he was in retirement, he didn't want to retire from doing math. We had a three-member team and we would meet regularly and our December meeting was scheduled for the day he died," Professor Lahr said. "He was so full of life and always continued that same attitude that I knew when I was an assistant professor right to the day he died. He was a great man and a great human being and a great friend. I will miss him sorely."
Kreider is survived by his companion of 26 years William F. White; his former wife, Mary Ellen Galebach Kreider of Norwich, Vt.; three sons, John Richard Kreider of Norwich, Vt.; Paul Alan Kreider of Boise, Idaho; and David Kendall Kreider of Boxford, Mass.; three granddaughters; four grandsons; and one great-grandson.
A memorial service was held for Professor Kreider at All Saint's Episcopal Church in Littleton, N.H., on Dec. 16, 2006.