I read in today’s New York Times this obituary: Goro Shimura, 89, Mathematician With Broad Impact, Is Dead. The man is justifiably famous. As the article notes, Shimura was “a mathematician whose insights provided the foundation for the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem and led to tools widely used in modern cryptography.” Upon reading this, I was immediately plunged into a sea of memories, for I once had a friend who spent hours daily reflecting on that one-time diamond of mathematical pursuit, Fermat’s Last Theorem.
When I was an undergraduate at Marietta College, I was fortunate to take several philosophy courses with Elizabeth Steiner Maccia. Her classrooms were overflowing with students eager to learn this esoteric subject from her, and her reputation was well-established when my fellow classmate and mathematics student, Jim Murtha, said “You ought to get a course from Liz Maccia; she’s good.” I think it is fair to say that Elizabeth Maccia’s course on Ethics changed my life.
Victorine Dorval Munier Andris was the grandmother that I never met. My own mother, Ella Lorene Sullivan Andris fortunately planted and kept alive in my mind the memory of “Torienne.” I don’t know too much about her, but story telling and genealogical excavation have allowed me to reconstruct some of the story of her life. One thing is clear to me, though. If it weren’t for Grandmother Andris, I wouldn’t be here.