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Prof. David V. Wend [math 1949–51]

January 23, 2017, in Bozeman, Montana, at home in his sleep.

Prof. David Wend lived his long life in his own way, and along the way enjoyed the bounties of the American West to their fullest. He was born in Poughkeepsie and grew up in Albany, New York, and as a child barely survived meningitis and severe secondary infections that subsequently deprived him of much of his eyesight. He graduated from the Albany Boys Academy and Hoosac School, and matriculated at the University of Michigan.

During World War II, he volunteered at the Lake Placid Club, running the canoe and boat dock for convalescing veterans. Wend was a student of American pianist Stanley Hummel and a lifelong student of classical music. He found his true home in the mountains, especially after his career led him west. During his time as a visiting professor at Reed, he hiked and skied his way across the Cascades and the Rockies, including a portion of Mount St. Helens that no longer remains. Returning to Michigan, he completed his dissertation, “Branched Regular Curve Families and Finite Asymptotic Paths of Analytic Function,” in 1955. During this sojourn he met and married his partner for the next 63 years, Alice Virginia Burke. They moved to Ames, Iowa, where he took up a mathematics post at Iowa State.

In 1955, Wend and his family moved to Salt Lake City so that he could teach at the University of Utah. Among his memories of his time there was his ability to teach morning classes and then go up to ski in the afternoon. “I got in more runs in two hours than I could during an entire weekend,” he recalled. He also loved to regale his family and friends with stories of camping in the mountains in Utah and viewing meteor showers in the crystalline night sky. After visiting Montana State University in Bozeman in 1966, he returned home and announced that he had found paradise, a place with more cattle than people.

Wend taught at Montana State from 1966 until his retirement in 1991. He authored numerous academic papers, particularly on linear and nonlinear differential equations.

In the 1990s, the Wends split their time between Alice’s family home in North Manchester, Indiana, and Bozeman. However, Wend always made sure to leave Indiana, as he put it, “when it stopped being human weather and started becoming corn weather.”

Supremely uninterested in accumulating material wealth, David Wend was a humane, compassionate, and brilliant man, whose inexhaustible store of patience, good humor, and even temper helped him successfully raise his children in the generational maelstrom of the 1960s and 1970s. He is survived by his wife, Alice, and his children, Chris, Eleanor, and Henry.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2017

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