Robertson Remembered for His Love of Mathematics

Lewis Robertson, professor of mathematics, emeritus, passed away Dec. 22, 2018, at the age of 80.

Robertson received his BS and MS from the University of Chicago and his PhD from the University of California—Los Angeles. He came to Wesleyan with tenure in 1970 after serving as an assistant professor at the University of Washington, and he remained at Wesleyan for 28 years until his retirement in 1998.

Robertson’s scholarly research focused on Lie groups, topological groups, and representation theory. His PhD thesis was on algebra, influenced by topology, and that remained his primary interest throughout his career. He published 23 papers, many with Wesleyan colleagues, and supervised three PhD students at Wesleyan.

Robertson loved mathematics and was always eager to think about any mathematics problem that arose.

“Lew was a gentle fellow, and unfailingly kind. As a mathematician, he was extremely self-effacing,” said Edward Burr Van Vleck Professor of Mathematics, Emerita, Carol Wood. “Nonetheless, it was impossible for him to hide his mathematical ability. Lew was a regular in the topology seminar over the decades, and when a topic (often outside his area of expertise) caught his interest, the depth of his comments would yet again remind me that Lew was a gifted mathematician.”

His colleague, Tony Hager, professor of mathematics, emeritus said, “Lew was my colleague and friend for about 50 years. He and I coauthored three fine papers together around 1980, one of which has become a go-to reference in its field. I will miss him greatly.”

Robertson is survived by his wife of 44 years, Janet; their son, Michael; one child from a previous marriage, Laureen; Janet’s daughters from a previous marriage, Julie and Jeanne; and eight grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for early May 2019. The family requests that memorial contributions be made in Lew’s name to the Wesleyan Fund to support students studying math and science, and sent to the care of Marcy Herlihy, University Relations, 330 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459.