Apr 2, 2012

Obituary: Franklin Graybill, 1921-2012

Franklin Graybill

Franklin Arno Graybill, Professor Emeritus and founding Chair of the Department of Statistics at Colorado State University, died Friday, February 17, 2012 at the age of 90. He is survived by his wife Jeanne, his children Dan and Kathy, three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Frank was born to Arno and Lula Graybill on September 23, 1921, in Carson, Iowa, a farming community of about 600 inhabitants. He had two brothers and four sisters. He attended Carson Consolidated School for all twelve years of public school and graduated in 1939. His graduating class consisted of 19 students. He then attended two years of college, from September 1939 to June 1941, at Tabor Junior College (Tabor, Iowa, 30 miles from Carson). In September 1941 he enrolled at William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and completed one semester of course work. When he went home for the Christmas break in December of 1941, days after the Pearl Harbor bombing, he volunteered to join the Army Air Corps. He did attend William Penn College for part of the second semester, until March 1942, when he quit college and began his army duty soon after that. He was sent to the Philippine Islands as part of a special troops unit.

After the war, Frank returned to his home in Iowa in 1946 and later attended summer school at Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley, Colorado. However, the college would not accept his course credits from Tabor Junior College, which had gone out of business during the Second World War. He then returned to William Penn College and completed his BA degree in Education in May 1947, with Mathematics and Physics as his main subjects. It was during this period that Frank met Jeanne Bunting, who had earlier graduated from William Penn College and was teaching elementary school. Days after graduation, on May 24, 1947, Frank married Jeanne.

In September 1947 Frank and Jeanne moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Frank attended Oklahoma A&M. He received a Master’s degree in Mathematics in May 1949, under the direction of Professor Carl Marshall. Frank and Jeanne’s first child, Dan, was born in 1948. In the fall of 1949 Frank went to Iowa State University to do his PhD in Statistics, where he would work under the direction of Professor Oscar Kempthorne. Frank and Jeanne had their second child, Kathryn, in 1950. Frank wrote his dissertation on “Quadratic Estimates of Variance Components” and graduated with a PhD degree in 1952. He then went back to Oklahoma A&M as an assistant professor of Statistics and stayed there until 1960.

In 1959, Frank attended the IMS meeting in Laramie, Wyoming, at which time he met Elmer Remmenga from the Department of Mathematics, Colorado State University. Professor Remmenga informed him that the Dean of Faculty at Colorado State, Andrew Clark, and the head of the Mathematics department, Les Madison, were interested in creating a graduate program in Statistics and were looking for a suitable candidate to lead this effort. Shortly thereafter, Frank interviewed for this position at Colorado State and received an offer to join the Department of Mathematics. Both Frank and Jeanne had always wanted to live in Colorado, so when the opportunity arose, Frank accepted the professorship position in the Mathematics department. In August 1960, he began his tenure at Colorado State University where he would stay for the next 37 years.

Soon after Frank’s arrival, the Department of Mathematics changed its name to Department of Mathematics and Statistics. During his initial years at Colorado State University, Frank created the Statistical Laboratory (on January 13, 1961) and also initiated the PhD program in Statistics. He successfully recruited and hired many talented faculty members. In 1971, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics split into two separate departments and Frank became the head of the newly born Department of Statistics. He served as department head until 1975.

Frank served on several committees in the various statistical societies. He was President of WNAR of the International Biometric Society in 1967. In 1968, Frank served as an Associate Editor of the Annals of Mathematical Statistics. He was the editor of Biometrics during 1972–75, and was the president of the American Statistical Association in 1976.

Frank taught graduate courses in Linear Models, Experimental Design, and Matrix Theory. He advised 33 MS and 26 PhD students during his tenure at CSU. Many of his students have gone on to make important contributions to the field of statistics in their own right. Frank published a number of books, both theoretical and applied, including his books on Theory and Application of the Linear Model, Matrices with Applications in Statistics, Introduction to the Theory of Statistics (Mood-Graybill & later Mood-Graybill-Boes), An Introduction to Statistical Models in Geology (with Professor W.C. Krumbein), and Confidence Intervals on Variance Components (with R.K. Burdick). During the 1990s he also wrote a book on regression analysis (with H. Iyer) and an introductory statistics book for undergraduate students with accompanying computer lab manuals for SAS and Minitab (with H. Iyer and R.K. Burdick).

In 1981, Frank changed his appointment in the Department of Statistics to part-time status. He continued to teach and advise even as a part-time professor until his retirement in 1997, at which time Frank and Jeanne moved to Mesa, Arizona.

The success of the statistics program at Colorado State University is in large part due to Frank’s efforts, his astute hiring during the 1960s, his vision for the department, his creation of the statistical laboratory (which now bears his name), and his leadership and hard work over the years. To thank Professor Graybill for his many contributions to the development of Statistics at Colorado State, the Department annually presents a graduate student with the Graybill Award for Excellence in Linear Models and hosts the Graybill Conference Series.

Frank Graybill will be remembered by his students and colleagues not only for his professional achievements but also as a warm, kind man with great devotion to his family and a wonderful, down-home sense of humor.

Written by Duane Boes, Jay Breidt, and Hari Iyer, Department of Statistics, Colorado State University

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