Fred S. Van Vleck, 83, Lawrence passed away Thursday, December 6, 2018 at Bridge Haven in Lawrence. A visitation is set for Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 10:00 ~ 12:00 pm at Warren-McElwain Mortuary with spoken remembrances starting at 10:30 am.
Fred was born on December 12, 1934 in Antelope County, Nebraska, the son of Harold and Patricia (Scott) Van Vleck.
He was a Professor at the University of Kansas for 42 years.
Fred married Charlotte Allen on June 18, 1960 in Sherburn, Minnesota. She survives of the home.
Other survivors include his children: Erik Van Vleck and his wife Barbara Bosché, Paul Van Vleck, Karl Van Vleck, Kristina Ingram and her husband Bryan, and Teresa Munk and her husband Peter; brother Dale Van Vleck; grandchildren: Haley Van Vleck, Alex Van Vleck, Max Ingram, Lucy Ingram, Erik Munk and Anna Munk.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Betty Ray.
Fred grew up on the family farm outside of Clearwater, Nebraska. In addition to raising crops and dairy cattle, the family raised Hereford cattle and were active in 4-H activities. For grades one through eight, Fred attended school in a one room school house with no electricity or water. He went to secondary school at Ewing High School and participated in basketball, football, track, and baseball and graduated second in his class. His parents, although not having much formal education themselves, highly valued education.
He attended the University of Nebraska on a Regents scholarship. After first studying chemical engineering and philosophy, he switched to mathematics after taking, in college, a basic high school level algebra course to prepare for the engineering coursework. He earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Mathematics at Nebraska and was greatly influenced by Professor Lloyd Jackson. He next moved to the University of Minnesota where he studied under the supervision of Professor Lawrence Markus. It was there that he met his future wife Charlotte Allen. They were married shortly after he received his PhD in Mathematics in 1960. The newlyweds moved to Cambridge, MA where Fred was an Instructor of Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1962 he took a position in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Kansas.
At KU, Fred was active as a scholar and a teacher. After arriving in Lawrence, he co-authored two textbooks. He published numerous journal papers and a research monograph during his career on topics that included differential equations, multi-valued functions, and optimal control theory with KU colleagues and other collaborators. He held visiting professor positions at the University of Colorado and Florida Atlantic University, and he served as a visiting lecturer for the Mathematical Association of America. In 1985, he was named as Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professor, a position he held until his retirement in 2004. He served as Director or Co-director of the Kansas Mathematics Workshops for Secondary School Teachers from 1989 to 1999.
Running became a passion for Fred in the 1970s. He was a founding member of the noon time KU faculty and staff running group known as “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” He competed in and finished the KU Relays Marathon several times and served for many years as a volunteer at the KU Relays. He was an active reader who enjoyed reading mysteries. In later years, he expanded his interests in family genealogy and civil war history. For his children and grandchildren Fred was a patient, calm, and generous parent, grandparent, and role model.
A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, a gifted mathematician, a generous and trusted colleague, and a friend to many, Fred had an uncanny ability (that he worked very hard at) to remember people’s names, even students from large classes many years before.
Memorial Contributions may be made in Fred’s name to Warm Hearts of Douglas County or The Willow Domestic Violence Center and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.