Tom started at UCLA in 1969. I did not get to know him that well right away, partly because we went on sabbatical for the 1970–71 academic year. But when we returned in 1971 I took the position of Graduate Vice Chair for the term 1971–73. My very able staff assistant was Christina Goodale. She and Tom started dating, and by mid 1972 she was Chris Liggett!
My wife Ginny and I became good friends of Tom and Chris from then on. We “car-sat” for their Toyota Corolla when they were away on sabbatical. We sang with them at the Christmas carol party at the Browns each holiday season. Tom and I played volleyball several times and once he got me out on the handball court — though I never managed to get him out on the badminton court. And we socialized at many departmental events.
I served one year as Department Chair in 1980–81, and Tom was my very effective Administrative Vice Chair that year. Then in 1988 I became Department Chair for the 1988–91 term. This was a somewhat troubled period, due to a difficult Dean and severe UC financial problems. Tom’s able advice and support during that time was invaluable, and I will be forever grateful for this.
Tom took over as Chair in 1991 and a year later I took early (VERIP) retirement from UCLA to head a new NSA-sponsored research facility (IDA/CCR) in La Jolla. This cut down on my/our opportunity to interact with former UCLA colleagues, but in 1996 I invited Tom down to participate in our summer “SCAMP” program. Tom contributed several important research papers to that project. Subsequently he served a three year term on IDA/CCR’s FOCUS advisory committee, including one year as chair. That last year he wrote a very nice and thoughtful summary report on the year’s progress.
In 2004 we attended Tom’s 60th birthday party, a wonderful occasion — seeing many old friends as well as celebrating the event. And in 2008 Tom was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, a very well deserved honor which pleased us very much. We continued to interact with them occasionally — but all too seldom — at various departmental events (mostly retirements). In particular we attended his retirement event in 2012. The last time I saw him was atretirement in 2018.
It has been a great pleasure and privilege to have known Tom throughout the years!
Alfred W. Hales is Professor Emeritus at the UCLA Department of Mathematics and a member of the research staff at IDA/CCR-La Jolla.