Dr. S.W. Hahn, Professor Emeritus at Wittenberg
Samuel Wilfred (Will) Hahn, PhD, Wittenberg mathematics professor and
Navy veteran, died Thursday, July 31, at Westminster Village
Retirement Community in Muncie, IN. He was 87.
Dr. Hahn, the son of Rev. Samuel Waightstill Hahn and Doris (Becker)
Hahn, was born in Columbia, SC, on March 21, 1921. As a child he
lived in Burke's Garden, VA, and in Prosperity, NC, and
Winston-Salem, NC. Entering Lenoir Rhyne College at age 16, Hahn
lettered in tennis, was active in campus religious organizations, and
sang in quartets and the school's a capella choir. He graduated
from Lenoir Rhyne at 20 as president of the student body, with a
major in history and a minor in English.
In June of 1941 Hahn entered Duke University as a graduate student in
mathematics. By Christmas he had completed his master's thesis and
been inducted into Duke's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Further
graduate work was interrupted for four years by World War II.
Hahn joined the Navy in the spring of 1942, a few weeks before his
21st birthday, as an Ensign, USNR. After a year as math instructor
at the Naval Reserve Air Station in Atlanta, GA, he volunteered for
anti-submarine-warfare training and was assigned to a new
destroyer-escort, the USS Cofer. Retooled after just one mission
to Europe, the Cofer-now a high-speed troop transport--was sent to
the South Pacific, where it delivered soldiers and landing craft to
key battles with the Japanese. For distinguished service in combat
at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in December 1944, Hahn was awarded
the Bronze Star. (After the war he remained part-time in the Navy
Reserves, serving most notably as Commanding Officer of a six-week
summer program for seamen at the US Naval Station in Green Cove
Springs, FL. When he retired from the reserves in the 1960s, he left
with 20 years of service and the rank of Commander, USNR.)
At war's end, in the spring of 1946 Hahn returned to Duke to complete
his PhD. There he met Martha Anne (Marty) Strowd, a 23-year-old
graduate student in the department of English. They were married in
Henderson, NC, on June 24, 1947. Six months later, Hahn defended
his doctoral dissertation and joined the faculty at the University of
Michigan in Ann Arbor as Instructor of mathematics. In subsequent
appointments, Hahn became Assistant Professor in the mathematics
department at Wittenberg College (1949-51), then Professor and Head
of the department of mathematics at Winthrop College in SC (1951-59),
and Professor of mathematics at Hampden-Sydney College in VA
In 1960 Dr. Hahn returned to Wittenberg as Professor of mathematics.
For the next 23 years, he taught math and served regular terms as
Chairman of his department. For a time he was Associate Dean of the
College; in other roles, he was a dependable member and chairman of
many campus committees. Late in his career, for the breadth of his
services to the college, he received the Class of 1914 prize.
Outside Wittenberg, Hahn held national offices with the Mathematical
Association of America (MAA) and served as Chairman of its Ohio
Section. For many years he was an active participant in the National
Science Foundation's program of summer seminars for mathematicians.
Dr. Hahn was the first Ohio mathematician to receive the MAA
Certificate for Distinguished Service.
After retiring in 1983, Dr. Hahn (who, with his wife, loved to
travel) accepted one-year appointments to teach at Wake Forest
University in NC (1983-84), Washington and Lee University in VA
(1984-85), the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid
City (1985-86), and California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks
(1986-87). From 1987, the Hahns remained in Springfield - hosting
and visiting friends, corresponding with former students and
colleagues, traveling South periodically to care for ailing
relatives, attending symphony concerts near and far. Always they
remained active members of First Lutheran Church, where Dr. Hahn sang
tenor in the choir into his 80s and periodically served on the church
In May 2002, Dr. Hahn's beloved wife Marty, former librarian of South
High School, died in Springfield after a long illness. Five years
later he suffered a stroke and moved to Westminster Village in
Muncie, IN. He is survived by three children (Stephen (wife Anne)
Hahn of Baltimore, MD; Dale (wife Beth) Hahn of Muncie, IN; and Carol
(husband David) Cooper of Cincinnati, OH) and five grandchildren
(Hilary Hahn; Leslie and Laura Hahn; and Andrea and Jamie Cooper).
A memorial service will be held at First Lutheran Church on Saturday
August 9 at 11 a.m. with Pastor James Christian officiating, preceded
by a prelude by organist Shirley Tennant and violinist Hilary Hahn.
The family will receive friends after the service. In lieu of
flowers, contributions may be made to First Lutheran Church, 30 South
Wittenberg Avenue, P.O. Box 1383, Springfield, OH 45502; or to The
Wittenberg Fund, Wittenberg University, P.O. Box 720, Springfield, OH
45501. You may express condolences to the family at
<http://www.littletonandrue.com/>www.littletonandrue.com as soon as
the obituary is posted on their website.