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Obituary Brought to You By:  Kimball Funeral Home & Crematory

Theodore "Ted" Ostrom
(January 4, 1916 - May 12, 2011)

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Theodore G. Ostrom died May 12, 2011. He was born January 4, 1916 in Nicollet County, Minnesota to Lloyd W. and Blanch M. Ostrom. He arrived in the world as a premature baby whom no one expected to live. Ted attended the University of Minnesota sporadically as he had money to pay for it, eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts degrees. He taught high school math in Granite Falls, MN for a couple of years, and then, searching for his niche in life, enlisted in the Navy. He was in Midshipman’s School when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He served as a lieutenant until the end of WWII, primarily in the Pacific. After the war he went back to the University of Minnesota on the GI bill where he earned his Ph.D. in mathematics. In 1947 he began his life’s work teaching mathematics and doing research in finite geometry and translation Planes at the University of Montana. He married Charlotte E. Williams on June 19, 1949. They raised four children together. They moved to Pullman, Washington in 1960 where Ted joined the math department at Washington State University. He consented to serve as chair for two years from 1968-1970. Ted spent two sabbaticals in Europe, mostly Germany, where he consulted with other mathematicians. He published many professional papers, wrote one book, and had an international reputation as a mathematician. He delivered the Washington State University Distinguished Lecture in 1980. After retirement he continued to do research, consult with colleagues, and edit math journals until he was in his ‘80’s. He also enjoyed gardening and reading, especially non-fiction. He and Charlotte traveled extensively until ill health grounded them. Ted’s approach to life was exemplified by patience, thoughtfulness, hard work, and kindness. He had many friends and was devoted to his family. He will be greatly missed. Ted was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Nina Taylor, and his wife, Charlotte, of Pullman, He died one year after the accident that led to Charlotte’s death. He is survived by his children: Kathy Harrison (Dale), Pullman; Dave Ostrom, Pullman; Nancy Ostrom (Terry Miethe), Henderson; NV, and Sue Ostrom (Doug Wood), Moscow, ID. He is also survived by four grandchildren: B. David Harrison, Seattle; Rachel K. Harrison, Vancouver, WA; Zachary D. O. Miethe, Reno, NV; and Alex O. Miethe, Henderson, NV; and two nieces, Dawn Buie, Yorba Linda, CA; and Nadine Fox, West Hills, CA. In lieu of flowers Ted’s family suggests memorials to the Ostrom Lecture Fund at Washington State University. A celebration of his life will be held May 21 at 1:30 PM at First United Methodist Church in Moscow, where his daughter Sue is pastor. Private burial will be held at the Pullman Cemetery. Kimball Funeral Home of Pullman, WA is caring for the family.


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