Remembering Prof. Crandall

I am so sad to hear of the passing of Richard Crandall ’69, one of my favorite teachers at Reed. Two memories stand out. First, I remember a class wherein we needed to multiply some rather large numbers to get an answer. We all bowed our heads towards our handheld calculators, but Richard admonished us to look up and do the math in our heads. How?! These were really large numbers. He showed us some shortcuts and then quizzed each of us with some examples. It was high-pressure stuff, but he was right: it was possible to exercise our brains to get the answer without the help of a machine. After my fear subsided, I came to really respect him for that lesson. 

My second story recalls an after-hours encounter in the electronics lab. I was thinking about geomagnetism for my thesis. After some discussion with Richard about this, he grabbed an oscilloscope mounted on a wheeled cart and suggested we try to measure the magnitude of the earth’s magnetic field by noting how the deflection of the ’scope’s green dot from center varied with the cart’s rotation. It didn’t really work, but it was so fun to try! Richard’s enthusiasm really inspired me. The guy was brilliant and yes, intimidating, but also enthusiastic and fun. Reed has lost a great mentor.

—Michael Steele ’81

Seattle, Washington