William (Bill) L. Paschke

William (Bill) Lindall Paschke, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Kansas, died at his home in Lawrence, KS, on December 11, 2019, at the age of 73.

Bill was born in New York City, the son of Wade Warren Paschke and Maria Lindall Paschke, and he grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. At an early age, Bill became interested in mathematics, a subject that would engage his mind for the rest of his life. In 1967 he earned a B.A. in mathematics from Dartmouth College and served as the classical music director and disc jockey for WDCR, the campus radio station. He continued to study mathematics at the University of Oregon and earned an M.A. in 1969 and Ph.D. in 1972. That same year, he joined the operator algebra group in the mathematics department at the University of Kansas. He received research funding from the National Science Foundation, published dozens of research papers, and presented his findings at mathematics conferences in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. In 1984, he spent a sabbatical semester at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, and from 1987 to 1989, he served as the Program Director for Modern Analysis at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. Bill returned to KU and continued his research and teaching until his retirement in 2011.

The mathematics department recognized Bill as an outstanding teacher. Passing by his office, one would often see students being schooled in the finer points of analysis and C* algebras. Bill was a talented, patient and nurturing mentor, and he helped many students grasp the beauty, power and importance of mathematics. On six occasions, the graduate students selected Bill to receive the G. Bailey Price Award for Excellence in Teaching. He also received the Max Wells Teaching Award in 2005 and the Career Teaching Award in 2011.

Bill had wide-ranging interests and loved to read about history, politics, current events, philosophy, science, art, and music. In high school, he mastered German and regularly read German literature, poetry, and news magazines. Over the years, he amassed a large collection of books, many of which he donated to the Lawrence Public Library or gave to friends. He was an avid music lover and whenever possible attended classical and opera performances.

Bill believed in the importance of active citizenship. He worked as a campaign volunteer, participated in rallies and marches, and wrote hundreds of letters to elected officials. For several years, he served as a Medicare counselor at the Senior Center, helping people through the complexities of health insurance enrollment.

Cycling was Bill’s special passion and he was frequently seen riding to and from the university or taking long excursions on county roads. As a graduate student in Oregon, he and his friends rode from Eugene to the Pacific Ocean, a 60-mile adventure across the coastal range on second-hand bikes. As a young man, he also enjoyed hiking and trout fishing in the Western mountain ranges, and in later years occasionally came home with fish for dinner from the lakes around Lawrence.

Bill was grateful for the friendship of his colleagues, who already miss his humor, generosity, open-mindedness, talent, confidence, and humility. He appreciated the kind and competent care he received from his health-care team, as well as the support and help he received from his friends during his final weeks.

Bill is survived by his wife of 51 years, Barbara; his sister, Ann Landi in Taos, NM; and cousins in Michigan, Colorado, and Oregon.

At Bill’s request, there will be no services. Those wishing to honor his memory may contribute to the Visiting Nurses Association in care of the Warren McElwain Funeral Home, 120 W. 13th St., Lawrence, KS 66044-3402.

15 Condolences

  1. Ann Landi on December 15, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    I know he will be hugely missed by his colleagues, his friends, and his family. My most heartfelt condolences to his wife and others how loved him. His sis.

  2. Milena Stanislavova and Atanas Stefanov, colleagues on December 15, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Bill will be remembered as one of the greatest analysts at KU. His superb intellect and his love of mathematics, his sophisticated sense of humor, his integrity and friendship will be missed deeply. Our condolences and love to Barbara.

  3. Shohreh and Houshang Sohrab on December 15, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Being among Bill’s friends was one of our greatest blessings and losing him now leaves a huge void in our hearts. He will be on our mind forever. May he rest in peace and may our love help Barb in her healing process.

  4. Val Landi on December 15, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    I didn’t get to know Bill well, but the few times I had a chance to spend time with him I enjoyed his sense of humor, wit, and the sparkling intellect shared by his sister and my best friend in this world, Ann. Blessings on your new journey, Barb.

  5. Julie on December 16, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I remember Bill from when I was very young when my dad took us to your house. I remember your home and Bill’s leather reclining swivel chair which I thought was very modern for its day. I could tell at that young age that your home was a place of knowledge and thoughtfulness, and reading his obituary confirms that was the case. We are thinking of you at this difficult time, Barbara.

  6. Jeremy Martin on December 16, 2019 at 11:25 am

    It was an honor to be Bill’s colleague, if only for a few years. I’ve talked to so many KU Mathematics alumni who remember him fondly. Condolences and best wishes to Barbara.

  7. Donna Breslin on December 16, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    I knew Bill in grade school and Jr. high. He was a nice nerdy smart kid, and obviously took those talents very far. It is interesting how our lives had some tangential connections, as I was a math major for a while, he wound up in the Midwest, as I did, I loved biking, and my husband was also a program director at NSF. Mountain Lakers get around! My condolences to Barbara and all his associates.

  8. Criss Tomlin on December 17, 2019 at 8:54 am

    In my mind, there was an elegance about Bill that is unmatched. His intelligence, his sense of humor, his kindness and his giving nature were nonpareil. Thinking about him always brings a smile. You have my heart at this difficult time.

  9. Betty Bunce on December 17, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Bill, in addition to being a great teacher and mentor to your students, you were also a good and caring friend. Your and Barbara’s steady friendship during John’s illness was so important to me. I loved your dry wit and humor. You will be sorely missed. Godspeed, my friend, Betty Bunce

  10. George Pisani on December 17, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Having known you both from the early 1970s when you came to BioSci and onward, through the times of the “Ustavagon” and more, my thoughts echo those above. So here, my wishes for peace and good memories; and all the best going forward.

  11. Bill Woodard on December 18, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Barb, my heart goes out to you. Bill was a fiercely intelligent, humble, warm, and compassionate human being. I will treasure his curious mind, dry wit, and ready laughter as I remember him. Love to you and all who knew him. He will be recalled fondly for a life well-lived.

  12. Bahman Engheta on January 14, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    I just found out about this today, Tue Jan 14, as I was looking up some of Dr. Paschke’s work. This is very sad news.

    I admired him for several reasons: his mathematical work and aptitude as a researcher, his teaching style as a professor, his personality and the interest he took in the graduate students around him, his kind manner, and his sense of humor.

    My condolences to his family, all his friends, and the KU Mathematics Department. He is and will be missed very much.

  13. Michael Kasigwa on January 15, 2020 at 7:52 am

    I just found out about this Wed, Jan 15, 20 from a facebook share of an alumni. This is very sad news indeed. Dr. Paschke was an exceptional person in many ways: He has a very kind man, an excellent teacher and a passionate mathematician to mention but a few. He was a mathematics department graduate coordinator when I applied to graduate school at The University of Kansas and through the department he arranged my visit from Uganda. After the visit and a passing score in English from the Language Center, among other criteria, I was admitted into the graduate program. The personal interest he took in me as a prospective student and the kindness he and Barbara showed me during the visit and after I reported to school later was more than amazing. They helped me settle in by providing some basic items I needed. Bill was a kind of guy you would count on come rain or shine, in calm seas and more especially in very stormy ones! A very high level scholar, exceptional operator theory and mathematical analyst and model professional man. His will be greatly missed, it not possible to list all his great attributes and how he positively impacted the careers of many, especially my own, his great humor is well known by all that interacted with him. His legacy will live on in many of us and beyond, may his soul rest in peace.

  14. Robert Vaughn on May 5, 2020 at 7:30 am

    He was my advisor for my M.A. . He taught me about Hilbert Spaces. I am sadden to find out he is no longer with us. Robert Vaughn PhD

  15. Donald Richards on July 22, 2020 at 10:52 am

    I am very sorry to learn that Bill has passed away. I had numerous interactions with Bill when he was at the National Science Foundation. Bill was terrific; he was always upbeat, optimistic, and encouraging. At that time, I was a young faculty member, and Bill was highly supportive of me and my research. I will always be grateful for the advice and encouragement that he gave me.

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