I remember my father every day. He was a huge man, both figuratively and literally. He was never small, even into his 90's. His considerable physical presence, irrepressible intellect along with his booming voice shook many a classroom as well as our house growing up...on a regular basis.
He used to refer to his mathematics professor at Princeton, Emil Artin, as "the great man". It was a rarity for my dad to express unadulterated admiration for anyone. He was, among other things quite a critical observer of people and the world in general. Fiery and outspoken but undeniably brilliant and insightful on a seemingly limitless range of topics. To me, at least, he was a genuine "polymath" (there has been some debate on the use of this word to describe my father in my family, but these debates themselves are part of my father's legacy). Growing up in the shadow of our own "great man" was, to say the least, a complex process and not always easy. But he lent us a feeling that somehow we too were special, having been bestowed, perhaps, a few of those gifts he so prominently displayed. I remember him daily. Frankly, not always with the "unadulterated admiration" he had for his own father and Professor Artin. He was a complex man and it was, (as he used to say), "by definition" a complex process to be his son. But I nonetheless think of him every day, and when I do, in my mind, I call him "the great man". Irreplaceable.
I met him when he visited Concordia University where his student Dr Anand was my colleague. I spent the afternoon
showing him a bit of Montreal. He had things to say that were fascinating. About Hua, about the oil business, about poverty, and his advice to me about some professional issues still guides me.
May his family be comforted among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Although I only knew Harold Shapiro later in life as the father of my sister-in-law, Lorraine Schumacher, I could not help but feel that I was in the presence of an extraordinarily brilliant human being....who was a down to earth "mensch" and family man as well.
Our condolences to the family.
I was shocked and saddened to learn of Harold's passing; he was truly a great man. He was a mathematical mentor to my father and brother, and for a brief period I was his chess teacher. I loved his math stories and I still remember them in great detail as if I heard them yesterday. His intellect was legendary, extraordinary, but I remember fondly his great kindness, his generosity, his humanity. He enriched my life enormously and I am very grateful.
My entire family was devastated upon hearing of Harold's passing. I have known Harold since I was 8 Years old. My father William Forman was one of Harold's 41 PHD Students but more importantly Harold was my dad's dearest friend. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have known Harold as both a friend and a professor. His humanity far surpassed his accomplishments academically. We think of him often and will never forget him. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have known this truly great individual.
I remember Harold very fondly from my years at the Courant as a graduate student, and afterwards. He had a terrifically acerbic wit, and one would usually leave his office laughing uncontrollably, but sometimes nearly in tears. I think of him often.
Though I hadn't seen him in about 10 years, Harold had such a strong personality that he will always be remembered. I fondly remember spending weekends in the Catskills with him and Ruth and my grandparents. I loved listening to his stories of mathematics, business, art, etc. I learned arcane information from his riddles like the words "jejune" and "jonquil" but somehow remember them 20+years later. My family will always be grateful and indebted to him for the invaluable help he provided my grandfather, William Forman, in obtaining his PhD. He was a great man who will be missed by the whole Forman family.
If anyone has contact information for his dear wife Ruth please email me through this site.
He was a brilliant number theorist and the finest and most enthusiastic teacher of mathematics I ever met. His booming voice and witty anecdotes still echo in my mind. He will be truly missed.
I and the other Courant Institute faculty have lost a treasured colleague, who will be remembered for a very long time.
I, like many students, at Courant, owe Harold a great deal. I counted him among my friends and always valued his advice and humor.
Harold was colleague of my father Lipman Bers. I remember Harold and Ruth with great fondness for their warmth and good humor. One summer while strolling in the Catskills, Harold stopped my oldest daughter, then a teenagers and asked if she was related to me. She said absolutely and asked how he knew. He said, you look just like her. We all loved the story: It was typical of Harold's expansive good nature to reach out to someone on the chance that he might make a connection. My deepest sympathy to Ruth and the whole family.
Harold was a brilliant senior Courant Institute mathematical colleague and a truly great and endlessly devoted teacher there and generous counselor to a great many young people.
His wit was always sharp and lightening fast. it enlivened countless conversations.
Another language Harold had studied and treasured was Hebrew. it was an important element of his self-definition that he was a Kohen, a descendent of the Aaronite priesthood.
Harold used to tell me that you're only remembered for good in this world if afterward people have some funny stories to tell about you. All of us who knew and cherished Harold have an inexhaustible supply of such stories of him.
- Prof. Sylvain Cappell
I am a fellow congregant from Beth Sholom in Mineola. This brilliant man used to kibbutz with my Grandpa who was a mere Laborer and didn't read or write English. Mr.Shapiro would always comment on my Grandpa's firm handshake. When my family was sitting shiva for my grandpa Mr. Shapiro told me my dad was delighted to live to see me get married. My sincere condolences to Mrs. Shapiro and the family. Amy Dorfman-Schechter.
I will always remember my Uncle Harold as a warm,engaging,principled man who told the best stories about the imaginary Tilla Klotz.You will be missed by all whose life you touched