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John Dyer-Bennet, Carleton College Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Dies

March 20, 2002


John Dyer-Bennet, professor emeritus of mathematics at Carleton College, died of prostate cancer on Tuesday, March 19. He was 86, and is survived by his wife, Mary; a son, David, (Pamela); a daughter, Barbara (Mark); and a sister, Miriam. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, May 3 at 4 p.m. in Skinner Memorial Chapel. Memorial gifts may be sent to Carleton College.

Dyer-Bennet came to Carleton in 1960 as an associate professor of mathematics. He retired in 1980, but continued to teach at Carleton for a number of years. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and a second master's degree and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He went into the U.S. Army in 1941 as an enlisted man, was commissioned and rose to the rank of lieutenant at the end of World War II. He was reactivated during the Korean War and rose to the rank of major. He continued in the reserves, and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel."

John was one of the most respected faculty members of his time," said Sy Schuster, the Laird Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and the Liberal Arts. "He was the embodiment of fairness, and that's why he was called upon by the administration and faculty to act as an ombudsman so many times in his career."

In a 1990 interview, Dyer-Bennet said, "I knew since high school that I wanted to teach mathematics at the college level. I've always enjoyed it—I enjoy dealing with young people. When I teach, I feel I am part of an operation that seems to matter. I'm not living for myself, but I'm part of a group that matters." Dyer-Bennet was a teaching assistant at the University of California and was an instructor in mathematics at Vanderbilt University. From 1946 to 1960, he held the titles of instructor, assistant professor and associate professor of mathematics at Purdue University. He specialized in linear and abstract algebra, and was a member of the Mathematical Association of America, The American Mathematical Society, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi and Pi Mu Epsilon.

Dyer-Bennet was also very interested in music; he played the violin and taught courses in music appreciation while at Purdue. He helped start Carleton's varsity men's soccer team in 1963, and served as volunteer coach for 19 seasons. He compiled a 88-57-27 record, including an undefeated 1977 season in which the team won the Midwest Conference Championship. He also coached tennis for a number of years.