David L. Williams graduated from the University of Michigan in 1959, earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from NYU, and master's and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from Michigan again, the latter in 1967 under the direction of Allen Shields. He then joined our Department as assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 1971, and had been approved by the Promotions Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences for promotion to professor, to take place July 1980. He died suddenly at home at the age of 42 on March 9, 1980 and was survived by his widow Prunella, a son Mark and a daughter Lynne.
His research related complex, harmonic and functional analysis. Doug Anderson wrote that “[h]is selection of research topics displayed impeccable taste and invariably concerned difficult, central problems whose solutions required ingenuity, insight, and substantial technical power.” Doug commented on Dave's service that “[h]is approach to practical, departmental problems was always open-minded, honest, and candid. He sought excellence, but understood the difficulty of attaining it.” Guy Johnson wrote about his service as follows: “Five times elected member of the department Executive Committee, member of the committee on the Department Constitution and frequent member of review committees for junior faculty, Williams was active and influential in the affairs of the Mathematics Department.” Professor Jack Graver, chair of Mathematics, referred to Williams as “one of the stalwarts of the department” and “one of our very best lecturers, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.” “Students frequently gave Professor Williams the highest possible mark as a teacher. He had the reputation of giving carefully prepared lectures based on an extensive knowledge of the material," according to a statement Professor Guy Johnson read at an Arts and Sciences faculty meeting. “It is not often that a member of the faculty is able to a strong contribution in each of research, teaching and service,” and “Professor Williams did this.”
Sources: The SU Record of March 20, 1980; an in memoriam statement read by Douglas Anderson at a Mathematics faculty meeting; a memorial statement read by Guy Johnson at the College of Arts and Sciences meeting on March 14, 1980.
Phil Church 6/04/02