Howard W. Eves, well known author and longtime professor at the University of Maine, died June 6, 2004, after a long illness. He was 93.
Eves received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Oregon State University. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a teacher, geometer, writer, editor, and historian of mathematics. He served as associate editor for several journals. His many awards included a Distinguished Teaching Award from the State of Maine, honorary doctorates from the University of Maine and McDaniel College, and the George Poacute;lya Award for mathematical writing. Eves spent most of his career at the University of Maine at Orono and at Machias, and more recently at Central Florida University. For 25 years he edited the Elementary Problems section of the American Mathematical Monthly. He was a member of the MAA since 1942.
Eves was the author of numerous mathematics articles and books, including Introduction to the History of Mathematics, one of the most widely used texts in the subject. His six volume Mathematical Circles series, collecting humorous and interesting anecdotes about mathematicians, was recently reprinted by the MAA, who also published his two volumes of Great Moments in the History of Mathematics and in 2001 his Mathematical Reminiscences. In 1997 Dover reprinted his Foundations and Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics. His two volume Survey of Geometry was first published by Allyn & Bacon in 1963 and has been reprinted in several abridged versions.
While at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, he became a friend of Albert Einstein, who once pointed to an aster growing in a crack in the sidewalk and remarked, “Bloom where you are planted.” His MMM (My Mathematical Museum) contained a nickel that Einstein had owned and a pencil Oswald Veblen had probably dropped, among hundreds of other interesting curiosities.
Eves was a strong spokesman for the MAA and a founder of its Northeast Section, which made him the first recipient, in 1980, of its Howard Eves Award for service to the Section and the Association. More importantly, he was a great humanitarian. Quietly and without fanfare or expectation of reward, he helped many people in need, going far beyond the call of duty. His honorary degree from the University of Maine was therefore a Doctorate of Humane Letters. His comment on that degree was equally modest: “They must have seen me patting a dog.”