Professor of Mathematics Emeritus Charles A. Grobe Jr. died after a long illness on September 29. He was 81 years old.
Grobe taught at Bowdoin for 35 years. In an email to the Bowdoin community last Monday, President Clayton Rose wrote that “his former students and colleagues carry with them fond memories of his sharp, dry wit and never-failing good humor.”
Grobe began teaching at Bowdoin in in 1964, after earning his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. In 1968, Elizabeth (Betsy) Mendell, his wife, also joined Bowdoin’s faculty, becoming the first woman to have a faculty appointment at Bowdoin.
“He was a family man,” said Isaac Henry Wing Professor of Mathematics William H. Barker. “He was just devoted to his two sons and his wife.”
Grobe gained a reputation for impressive blackboard lectures.
“He was very precise,” said Barker. “He would write very carefully and it was beautiful.”
Outside of teaching, Grobe had a passion for photography. On the cover of the 1974-1975 Bowdoin course catalogue is an orange and red photo Grobe took of a boat at sunset at Five Islands in Georgetown, Maine.
It was the only course catalogue cover in Bowdoin’s history to feature a photo that is not of a building on campus. Very few covers have photos at all, most simply featuring text and the College insignia.
“He was always very proud of that photo,” said Barker. “It is a lovely shot.”
Beyond mathematics and photography, both Barker and Rose remarked on Grobe’s incredible character.
“When he was ill, he showed true, really incredible courage,” Barker said.
“He was a remarkable member of the Bowdoin community and a remarkable teacher and scholar and a remarkable partner with his wife,” said Rose.