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William T. Guy Jr.

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William T. Guy, Jr. William T. (Bill) Guy, Jr., age 91, died peacefully at his home in Austin, Texas on May 22, 2011. The son of Dr. William T. and Viola Guy, he was born in Abilene, Texas, on December 11, 1919. Dr. Bill Guy was one of the most well-known and beloved mathematics professors at The University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for 60 years. After graduating from Brady High School in 1936 at the age of 16, he attended Texas A&M University. He earned his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1940. Bill was a scholarly student who also took full advantage of the opportunities at A&M. He was President of the Honor Society, Vice President of the Senior Class, a Ross Volunteer, head of the school's Freshman program, and as a Major in the Engineers he was the 2nd Battalion Commander. He was also two year Captain of the Rifle Team, a team that won the Southern Division Championships and went to the Nationals at Camp Perry, Ohio. In 1941 he married Valaree Commander, his high school sweetheart from Brady, Texas. After working as an engineer for Westinghouse in Pennsylvania and serving in the Army Corps of Engineers for over four years at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri during World War II, Bill moved his bride to Austin. In 1948 he earned his Masters in mathematics from The University of Texas. After he earned his PhD in mathematics from California Institute of Technology in 1951, the family returned to The University of Texas where Bill began his long distinguished career as a professor extraordinaire. Soon he was wearing his trademark outfit: suit pants, bow tie, and white shirt with pens in the pocket. In 1961 his old Brady coach and mentor, Earl Rudder, then president of Texas A&M University, offered Bill a position as a senior vice president. He politely declined because most of all he loved the classroom, loved students, and loved mathematics. Dr. Bill Guy was known throughout UT, all over Texas, across the US and beyond America's borders for his grace, for his teaching voice, and for his students learning a lot more than they had planned. His sons have met ex-students all over the country and heard such comments as "he was the best teacher I ever had," "Dr. Guy made math come alive" and "I still remember what he taught." He had the ability to express complicated ideas so people could understand and remember. Dr. Guy taught classes at every university level, including classes in Honors Calculus, Laplace Transforms, Fourier Series, and Vector and Tensor Analysis. He regularly taught four or five classes each semester. These classes were almost always full and had a waiting list, including his 7:00 a.m. summer classes. He supervised 19 mathematics PhD students and 81 master's degree students. He also taught a large number of engineering students in their required math courses, which vastly increased the number of students who have been influenced by his teaching. Among his many honors, Dr. Guy received the Scarbrough Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Student Association Teaching Excellence Award, the Cactus Outstanding Teacher Award, the Natural Sciences Council Outstanding Teaching Award, and the Minnie Stevens Piper Professorship. He has been recognized as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and as a Texas Academy of Science Fellow. In addition he was inducted into the Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates at Texas A&M University in 2001. The immense amount he contributed to The University of Texas was recognized in 1995 when he was one of the first twelve people inducted into the newly established Academy of Distinguished Teachers. The culmination of his career came in 2010 when the College of Natural Sciences created the William T. (Bill) Guy Excellence Endowment in Mathematics." Dr. Guy was proud of teaching 63 years-60 years at UT, ending in 2009 when he was 89 years old; and 3 years at Cal Tech-of working on the board of deacons at Hyde Park Baptist Church, of his tireless work on the board at the University Federal Credit Union, and of his three sons. But Bill was most proud that he was married to Valaree Commander Guy. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Valaree Guy; three sons Paul Guy and his wife Heidi of Chico, California, Gary Guy of Austin, and Greg Guy and his wife Cynthia also of Austin; grandchildren Joel Guy, Heather Troth, Kevin Guy, and David Guy; six great grandchildren; sister Monnajene Guy Knight and her family; and three cousins. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the "William T. (Bill) Guy, Jr. Excellence Endowment in Mathematics" in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, 2011 in the Chapel of Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, North Lamar location. Interment will follow at Austin Memorial Park. Obituary and guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com


Published in Austin American-Statesman on May 25, 2011
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