Professor Emeritus James A. Hummel, 82, died on June 23rd of a neurological pathology, after a career as a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, and a retirement that included board memberships that expanded his love of barbershop and chorus singing. A long-term resident of Adelphi, Maryland, he moved with his wife Caroline to Leisure World in Silver Spring, where he became a member of the Board and treasurer of his "mutual." He was born in Santa Monica, California, did his undergraduate work at CalTech University in mathematics and astronomy, graduated as valedictorian, entered graduate school at Rice University, served stateside in the Army signal corps during the Korean conflict, and received his PhD in mathematics in 1955. After postdoctoral study at Stanford University, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Maryland in 1957, where he taught, lectured, and performed research until his retirement in 1992.
He was an expert in Schlicht function theory (univalent analytic functions of a domain of complex numbers). He published books on vector-functions, was involved in the development of "new-math" textbooks, but was best known for his unpublished lecture notes on Riemann Surfaces and Conformal Mapping, which were used by many graduate students in mathematics throughout the country. His professional collaborations included sabbatical stays at Imperial College in London, Stanford University, and multiple stays at Bar Ilan University in Israel.
A renaissance scholar and scientist, over a period of more than 25 years, he was a judge for the annual Westinghouse Talent Search (now the Intel Science Talent Search) honoring top science high school seniors. He joined the Barbershop Society in 1955, and was an avid barbershopper and member of the Singing Capital Chorus, and a frequent chorus member in Gilbert and Sullivan productions, including a membership and performer with the Victorian Lyric Opera Company in Rockville, Maryland. At Leisure World, he helped establish the Center for Lifelong Learning, teaching courses on the birth and history of mathematics, number theory, and the mathematics of music. He leaves a long legacy of students influenced by his teaching and tutoring, including his mentorship of the young 11-year-old Charles Fefferman in 1960, who would later be a recipient of the distinguished Field's Medal in Mathematics.
A religious man, he was a member of Hope Lutheran Church in College Park, Maryland for over 50 years, frequently serving on the council. He was also a member of Kiwanis and chairman of their scholarship committee, selecting and distributing scholarships to local high school seniors. He had memberships in Sigma Xi and Tau Beta Pi honorary societies.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Caroline Hummel, and his three sons, Bob, John, and Albert. Bob and Albert live in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, and John has recently moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, from Jacksonville, Florida. He has three grandchildren, Alex, Stephen, and Lexa.
A memorial service will be held at Hope Lutheran Church, 4201 Guilford Drive, College Park, MD 20740, just off the University of Maryland campus, at 7:30pm on Tuesday, June 29, Pastor Jim Vigen presiding.
On Saturday, July 10, there will be a service and song-fest to follow at Leisure World in Silver Spring Maryland near Georgia Avenue and Bel Pre Road. Service will begin at 11am at the Leisure World Inter-Faith Chapel, 3680 South Leisure World Blvd, Silver Spring, MD 20906, and a buffet lunch and song-fest will follow at noon in the ballroom of the Leisure World Clubhouse I at 3701Rossmoor Blvd, Silver Spring MD 20906. A memorial fund for Jim Hummel has been established at Hope Lutheran Church.