Math Chair Klaus Fischer Dies

Posted: July 7, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: July 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

Klaus Fischer teaching.

Klaus Fischer teaching.

Klaus Fischer, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, died on Thursday, July 2, at the age of 65. The following message was sent to his colleagues by Vikas Chandhoke, dean of the College of Science.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with deep sorrow that I tell you that Dr. Klaus Fischer died Thursday, July 2, from respiratory failure associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

He is survived by his wife, Eva Thorp; their son, Eric; and daughter and son-in-law, Kathryn and Juan de Chamie.

Visitation will take place Tuesday, July 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home, located at 9902 Braddock Road in Fairfax. Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8, at Burke Presbyterian Church, 5690 Oak Leather Drive in Burke.

Memorial contributions may be made in Klaus’ name to the ALS Association, 7507 Standish Place, Rockville, MD 20855.

Klaus received his PhD from Northwestern University in 1973 and joined the Mason faculty that same year. He was serving a second term as chair of the Mathematical Sciences Department at the time of his death.

Widely respected by colleagues around the country, his multifaceted career as a mathematician put him at the forefront of education for students at all levels, teacher training, statewide education initiatives and mathematics reform activities. For many years, Klaus was a national judge for MATHCOUNTS, an enrichment, coaching and competition program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement.

His research interests spanned a variety of complex problems, including algebraic geometry, commutative algebra and graph theory and combinatorics with a geometric bent.

A man of many passions, Klaus was an avid tennis player; a founder and 30-year member of a noontime faculty basketball team; and a bicyclist who pedaled across the country in 30 days one summer, crossing the Rockies and carrying water from the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles to add to the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach. He continued to bike to work until recently.

His other interests included folk, bluegrass and blues music; carpentry; and quiet time with his thoughts in front of a roaring fire.

Those close to him agree on one of his most significant contributions: “Klaus always saw the lighter side of darker events and gave us comic relief at needed times.”

He was a fine man who will be sorely missed.


Vikas Chandhoke
Dean, College of Science

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