Reporter 451, 8 May 2000


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David Crighton died on April 12

With the tragically premature death of David Crighton, on 12 April at the age of 57, the University lost one of its most charismatic and influential former staff members. Coming to Leeds in 1974, remarkably to a Chair in Applied Mathematics as his first permanent post, he quickly justified the foresight and perception of the appointing committee.

Indeed the School of Mathematics at Leeds provided the canvas on which Davidís remarkable range of talents and energies were first demonstrated. His appointment created an ideal marriage, not without its tensions and occasional disagreements, but one from which both partners, he and the University, benefited greatly. The Leeds department of Applied Mathematics, which in 1974 was modest in its achievements and expectations had, by the time of his departure to Cambridge in 1986, become unquestionably one of the top three or four departments in the country.

The credit for this transformation, which has happily been maintained, lies overwhelmingly with David. His successive spells as Head of Department, Chairman of School and Chairman of the Science Board left in every case indelible marks of his imagination, energy and effectiveness which have subsequently become more widely familiar through his similar contributions, often as President, to virtually all national and international applied maths organisations.

What everyone remembers is his style, marrying the ability to take tough decisions, with boundless good humour and care for and interest in the individual. It was rare indeed for any other reference, as much for a journal paper as for a prestigious chair candidate, to show more careful, detailed and astute assessment than Davidís, despite the immense load of such tasks he was called upon to carry out.

At the time of his death, David Crighton was midway through his tenth year as Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, and was Master of Jesus College. Cambridgeís institutional loss will be immense but above all he will be sadly missed by his multitude of friends, here as in Cambridge and the rest of the world. We extend our deepest sympathy, particularly to his wife Johanna, and other members of his family.

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