Cover photo for Lawrence Sherwin Levy's Obituary
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1933 Lawrence 2014

Lawrence Sherwin Levy

October 2, 1933 — March 22, 2014


Lawrence Sherwin Levy, age 80, died peacefully at home in Madison, WI on March 22, 2014, having bid farewell to 5 generations of family and friends.

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Ralph Isadore Levy and Betty Levin Levy. He later moved to Brooklyn, NY where he attended Lincoln High School and cultivated his passions for piano and math and his enjoyment of handball, chess, and electronics. He completed a MA degree in piano performance at Juilliard School of Music before earning a PhD in mathematics at the University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign.

He came to the UW-Madison Department of Mathematics in 1961 and retired in 1999 in order to focus more fully on his research on Noetherian Rings (an area of abstract algebra) and to work with colleagues around the world. As a teacher, he was known for his precision and clarity and for his gentle, direct and caring nature. Many of his graduate students have gone on to have PhD students of their own--"mathematical children and grandchildren".

Throughout his career he remained a brilliant, expressive, and dedicated classical pianist, favoring Schubert, Chopin, and Brahms. He delighted his family and friends with his joy in playing show tunes, classical songs, and any song you could hum in any key that suited your voice. He loved improvising and would make elaborate arrangements of favorite songs.

In Larry, music and math seemed to feed off each other, so that periods of intense mathematical progress often coincided with hours of beautiful piano playing.

He enjoyed bicycling, hiking (especially back packing), camping and woodworking. He was known for his delight in puns and found one for every occasion. In spite of definite tastes and strongly held opinions, Larry radiated kindness and good humor and was the recipient of much in return, especially over the last 4 years, from many wonderful people who were important to him. Special thanks to Mihal Davis who helped him and his wife through those difficult last years.

He is survived by his wife Ruth Saunders from whom he was inseparable and with whom he lived for 35 years, his sons Eric (Jay) and Andrew (Tammy), his sister Janet Sadowsky (Howard) and a large diverse and ever growing extended family of nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held May 17th from 1:30 to 4:30 at his home.

Memorials may be sent to Planned Parenthood to help assure the best start for those at the beginning of life, and Agrace Hospice, to assist those at the end.
To order memorial trees in memory of Lawrence Sherwin Levy, please visit our tree store.

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