Despite his responsibilities as a prominent faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University, John C. Reynolds managed to find time outside the classroom to nurture the ideas of students, junior faculty and other developing academics.
A research colleague said he discovered that when he was invited as a visiting graduate student nearly a quarter-century ago to stay in Mr. Reynolds' home in Shadyside and found the man willing to spend hours engaging him in his ideas. He also found it later in life as the two worked together on cutting-edge research.
"For me, this was an amazing experience, talking to one of the greatest minds computer science has known," Peter O'Hearn, who now works at University College London, recalled Thursday in an email. "He was sharp but forgiving. He caught my mistakes but always met them with a more positive suggestion of new possibilities."
Mr. Reynolds, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon since 1986, died Sunday at Forbes Hospice of cancer and congestive heart disease. He was 77 and continued to teach until retiring in January of this year.
He and Mr. O'Hearn went on to collaborate a decade ago on what Carnegie Mellon said was some of the most influential published works done by Mr. Reynolds, whose interests centered around designing programming languages and developing tools and methods for uses, including verification of program correctness.
According to Carnegie Mellon, the pair created "a framework for reasoning about programs called separation logic." The university said their work has blossomed into a sizable area of research.
There were others at Carnegie Mellon who recalled Mr. Reynolds' nurturing side, among them Frank Pfenning, head of the Computer Science Department, who was a postdoctoral student there when he met Mr. Reynolds in 1986.
He recalled how Mr. Reynolds counseled against chasing after trends and urged researchers to trust their instincts. Mr. Pfenning said that when Mr. Reynolds would be asked about whether to publish a paper on a particular topic, "He would say, 'Well, do you think it's worth publishing?' He would put things back to you. It made you see things in a different light."
Mr. Reynolds was raised in Glen Ellyn, Ill. He completed his undergraduate studies at Purdue University. He received a doctoral degree in theoretical physics from Harvard University in 1961.
He and his future wife, Mary Allen, met while he attended Harvard. She said he liked to discuss ideas with colleagues. "They would have some heated discussions, but what came out of it became very important and influential work."
He was employed by Argonne National Laboratory for nine years starting in 1961. He also was a visiting junior faculty member at Stanford University. He also worked part time at the University of Chicago.
He was a professor of computer and information science at Syracuse University for 16 years starting in 1970 and then moved to Carnegie Mellon.
His professional titles included editor of the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. Among the awards he received was Lovelace Medal of the British Computer Society in 2010 and Carnegie Mellon's Dana Scott Distinguished Research Career Award in 2006.
In addition to his wife of 52 years, Mr. Reynolds is survived by two sons, Edward of Syracuse, N.Y., and Matthew of Seattle.
Arrangements are being handled by John A. Freyvogel Sons, Shadyside. Carnegie Mellon said a memorial service will take place May 11 at 11 a.m. at Allegheny Cemetery Mausoleum. In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to East End Cooperative Ministry, 250 N. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh 15206.
Bill Schackner: email@example.com or 412-263-1977.