1925 - 2013
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PROFESSOR ERNEST MICHAEL
University of Washington Professor Ernest Arthur Michael died on April 29, 2013 after a long decline in health. He is survived by his wife Erika, his brother, Charles Michael, his sister, Jackie Errera, his sons Alan, David, Gerard, and Joshua, his daughter Hillary, and his beloved grandchildren.
Professor Michael was born on August 26, 1925 in Zürich, Switzerland and spent the early part of his life in Frankfurt and Berlin. He moved with his family to The Hague, Netherlands, on New Year's Day of 1931 to evade the increasing threat of Nazi persecution.
His parents, Jakob Michael and Erna Sondheimer Michael, eventually settled the family on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Professor Michael attended The Horace Mann School, graduating in 1941 at age 15. Afterwards, he enrolled at Cornell University majoring first in civil engineering, then in mathematics. Enlisting in the Navy, he served aboard the escort carrier, USS Kwajalein, until 1946.
Upon his return, he resumed his studies at Cornell, earning his BA in 1947, an MA in Mathematics at Harvard in 1948, and his Ph.D - specializing in General Topology - at The University of Chicago in 1951. Recalling the beauty of the Puget Sound region during his time in the Navy, he was delighted when a position in his field opened up at The University of Washington in Seattle. He applied for the position and became one of the math department's longest-term professors, becoming Emeritus in 1993.
In Mathematics, Professor Michael became best known for his work on paracompact spaces. Two important developments in the field are named for him: the Michael line and the Michael Selection Theorem. During his distinguished career, he went on to publish over 100 papers and was Editor of Proceedings of The American Math Society and Topology and Its Applications.
Professor Michael was an Inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, four-time Visiting Scholar at The Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, as well as Visiting Professor at the E.T.H. Zurich, University of Stuttgart, and University of Munich. He was a grantee of the AEC Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and the Humboldt Foundation.
A lifetime collector of Judaica and modern art, Professor Michael supported many philanthropic causes, both in the Seattle region and in Israel.
A funeral service is planned for Wednesday, May 1st at 3:00 PM at Temple Beth Am, Seattle.
Published on NYTimes.com from Apr. 30 to May 1, 2013