Dorothy Jean Christensen Williams, 1930–2003
Former Reed math professor Dorothy Jean Christensen Williams died in September in Portland at age 73. Williams joined the Reed mathematics faculty in 1959 and received tenure in 1962. She taught at Reed until 1965, but came back for a year as a visiting professor in 1977. She retired from teaching in 1996 as a professor of mathematics emerita at Portland State University.
Williams was born in Nebraska on February 12, 1930, but spent her early years in Eugene, Oregon. A winner of the Westinghouse Science Talent Search at age 16, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Oregon, where she was one of the Senior Six Phi Beta Kappa, and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She began her college teaching career at Wellesley College.
Williams was recognized as a gifted teacher who could teach mathematics at any level, with devotion to her students and a scholarly, creative approach to her field. She was a member of the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society. Her community activity often involved education; she was active in the Portland Public Schools as an adviser, and she also served as a tutor in mathematics. Her interests included bridge playing and crossword puzzles.
Survivors include four sons, a granddaughter, and her former husband, Vincent.