Obituary: Eleanor Killam, Professor Emerita of Mathematics

Eleanor Killam
Eleanor Killam

Eleanor Killam, 84, of Amherst, professor emerita of mathematics, died Jan. 1.

Born May 18, 1933 in Whitefield, New Hampshire, she graduated from Whitefield High School as class valedictorian. In 1955, she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree and created a pre-feminist stir in the New Hampshire press by performing above all other students in the College of Technology, an area that had been the exclusive province of men. She stayed on at UNH for her master’s degree and earned her doctorate at Yale on a four-year scholarship.

She joined the UMass Amherst department of mathematics, now mathematics and statistics, in 1960 and taught for 31 years, retiring in 1991.

In 1995 she and two colleagues, Henry Jacob and Haskell Cohen, established an annual math competition for freshmen and sophomores. It presents challenging problems and offers cash prizes. After the deaths of Jacob and Cohen, it became known as the “Jacob, Cohen, Killam” competition.

Killam is survived by her sister, Susan K. (John) Hrobar.

Memorial contributions are welcome to the Jacob-Cohen-Killam competition, in care of the UMass Amherst department of mathematics and statistics.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m. in the United Congregational Church of Holyoke, Appleton and Maple streets, Holyoke.