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IN MEMORIAM:

Additional Rememberance

 

Dr. George Lenchner (1917 - 2006)

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dr. George Lenchner, the creator of the Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools and many other organizations. Born on Beethoven's birthday (December 16) in 1917, he distinguished himself in several diverse areas. There are perhaps thousands of people whose lives have been changed for the better because of him. Many of them have openly stated that they owe their careers to him.

He was a member of a championship high school math team in the mid-1930s and was All-America in Lacrosse at the City College of New York. In 1944 as an Airborne Ranger, Lt. Lenchner was seriously wounded on Omaha Beach D-day while leading the second wave and spent over a year in hospitals. Returning to civilian life, he earned a Masters degree in music in 1948 from New York University. Finally he decided to focus on math education, returning to his first love.

In 1950 Lenchner became a high school mathematics teacher at New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, moving to Valley Stream North High School in 1953 as its math chairman. In 1954 he proposed the creation of the Nassau County (NY) Interscholastic Mathematics League (NCIML) for high school students, perhaps America's first regional math contest outside of New York City run by the schools themselves.Under his leadership, NCIML was fully operational one year later. Today it serves over 1000 students a year. His article in the Mathematics Teacher (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, February 1959) on the NCIML sparked the formation of similar leagues by many county and state math organizations across the nation. At about this time he also formed the Nassau County Association of Math Supervisors and suggested forming the Nassau County Junior High School Mathematics League. In 1960 this new league held its first meet. Like the NCIML, these organizations are still flourishing.

After Lenchner helped Alfred Kalfus form the Suffolk County Interscholastic Mathematics League. For ten years beginning in 1959 the NCIML and the SCIML held annual playoffs. In 1965 he received a second Master's Degree, an MS in Mathematics from Adelphi University, and in 1972 he earned an Ed.D. in Mathematics from T.C. Columbia University.

In 1970 he became Director of Mathematics for the Valley Stream Central School District, working with elementary schools for the first time. His in-service course, The Art of Problem Solving in School Mathematics, meant for Valley Stream teachers, eventually became a book for Houghton Mifflin, one of many books and articles that he authored or co-authored for major academic publishers. A master teacher, his students include several prominent mathematics educators and his workshops have inspired people on five continents to participate in the Math Olympiads.

In 1978 Dr. Lenchner created the Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS, originally LIMOES), for the elementary schools in Valley Stream. However, requests from other math directors that year led to the creation of LIMOES in 1979. By 1980 it attracted schools in Arkansas and Washington State, and within another year outgrew Long Island, Today the math Olympiads serves schools in all 50 states, 3 U.S. territories, and about 30 foreign countries. It also has seven foreign subsidiaries, serving additional schools in 21 other countries.

In 1982, Dr. Lenchner and Judy Broadwin coauthored an immensely popular solutions manual for the Advanced Placement examinations in Calculus. Five years after its final printing, it still sells thousands of copies a year. In 1983 he retired from Valley Stream to concentrate full-time on MOEMS. Even so, 1n 1984 he responded to Dr. Jong Pil Lee's request to help design several more projects to improve mathematics teaching on Long Island, several of which still flourish. In 1995 Dr. Lenchner retired from MOEMS and wrote two more books, both of which are still in print.

Among his honors are: National Science Foundation Fellow; HEW Department Fellow; Mathematics Teacher of the Year Award, NYS Society of Professional Engineers; Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award, Harvard University; Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Journalism, EPA of America; Founder's Award for Outstanding Service, NCIML; LIMACON Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mathematics Education, Long Island Mathematics Conference; Goudreau Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mathematics Education, Goudreau Museum of Mathematics and Science.

On Saturday night, April 22, Dr. Lenchner fell, striking his head. About 24 hours later, he passed away at the age of 88, with his wife Edna, and his sons Eric and David at his side. All live in or around San Francisco. A small ceremony is planned for this week and a larger memorial service for a date in May to be determined. The family asks that any contributions made in his name be sent to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a favorite charity of his.

Their web site is http://www.splcenter.org/ and a donation can be made at https://secure.splcenter.org/donate/online/online.jsp.


Nicholas J. Restivo
Executive Director, MOEMS

John Lufrano
Executive Secretary, MOEMS