Obituary: W.E. 'Gene' Deskins / Math professor cultivated students and garden
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W.E. "Gene" Deskins, a professor and mathematician who was chairman of the math department at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1970s and 1980s, enjoyed being in the classroom.
"He loved to teach. He loved finding students who really enjoy math," said his daughter, Samantha E. Deskins of Austin, Texas.
Mr. Deskins died Monday in his Point Breeze home. He was 85 and had been suffering from dementia.
He was a native of Morgantown, W.Va., and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
His area of research was in classic group theory, a branch of modern algebra, said Charles Cullen, an associate professor emeritus at Pitt and a department colleague of Mr. Deskins.
Mr. Deskins was a frequently published scholar and a lecturer and invited speaker at various academic gatherings in this country and abroad.
Beginning in the early 1950s, he taught at Wisconsin and later at Ohio State and Michigan State universities. By then, he had developed an affinity for Pittsburgh, He traveled a number of times from Columbus, Ohio, to attend Pittsburgh symphony performances and eventually made this city his home, his daughter said.
In 1971, Mr. Deskins came to Pitt as a professor and chairman of the mathematics department. After stepping down from the chairmanship in 1987, he became associate dean of what was then called Pitt's college of arts and sciences, a position he held until retiring from Pitt in 1995 as a professor emeritus.
"He did a great deal to strengthen the research abilities of the mathematics department," Mr. Cullen recalled.
Mr. Deskins' wife of 44 years, Barbara Deskins, who was an associate professor at Pitt, a registered dietician, an author and freelance columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, died in 1997 at age 67.
She loved to cook, her daughter recalled, so it was a good match that her father was an avid gardener, transforming much of their yard to grow vegetables and herbs.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Deskins is survived by another daughter, Lucinda E. Deskins of State College; a sister, Jacqueline Adams of Lumberton, Texas; and a grandson.
The funeral is private and no visitation is planned. Arrangements are being handled by John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc. in Shadyside. Memorial contributions may be made to the World Wildlife Fund, P.O. Box 97180, Washington, D.C. 20090 or www.worldwildlife.org.
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ALAIMO, Carmella V., South Side
ALLEN, Daryl C.J., Point Breeze
BAILEY, Bruce Edward, Cranberry
BARNER, Kenneth H., Bethel Park
BARNES, Winifred Stockton Cranmer, Butler
BATCHELOR, John W., Plum, formerly Penn Hills
BISHOP, Clara E., Ohio Township
BROWN, Timothy J., Greenfield
BUCZKOWSKI, Joanne Virginia Becker, Garfield
CAIUZZI, Scorisa Columbus "Sue," Scott
CARUSO, Frances Valerino "Franny," Hampton
CRAWFORD, June K., Hampton
DANIELE, William A. "Ban," Beechview
DUGAN, Leona A., Brookline
EATON, Harry Reed, Amarillo, Texas
FRIEL, John T.
GOODMAN, Hyman Louis, Bradford, McKean County
GREB, Dorothy J. Koeper, Castle Shannon
GREENAWALD, Esther S., McKees Rocks
HARBER, Betty Jean
HARVANKA, Katherine, Braddock Hills
HOREY, Helen Sophie Paternoster, formerly Hazelwood
JAMES, Anthony C., North Side
MAZUKNA, Albert C., McCandless
NAUGHTON, Regis M., Claymont, Del.
NEVILLE, Robert A. "Bob," Mt. Lebanon
NODEN, Norma Jack
OPFERMAN, Robert George, Mt. Lebanon
PALMIERI, Mary A. Sabo
PLUT, Gregory D. Jr., Shaler
POLICE, Charles L., Bethel Park
PORCO, Josephine Runco
PUWALOWSKI, Katie Marie, Lawrenceville
SAXON, George E., Oakmont
SCHWARTZ, Dorothy R., formerly Allentown
SCOTT, Marie E. Schuck, Bloomfield
SKILLEN, Georgia L., Oakmont
STASIK, Shirley C., Bridgeville
TAPOLCAI, Elsie K., Memphis, Tenn., formerly Whitehall
VERGENES, Arthur "Ozzie," McKees Rocks
WINSLOW, Rose, Green Tree, formerly McKees Rocks
WORDEN, Mafalda Marino "Tillie," Pleasant Hills
HARDT, Louis J., Longview, Texas
REFOSCO, Vllma Elizabeth, Houston, Pa., formerly Cecil
First Published August 3, 2012 12:00 am