Norman Oler: 1929-2011

Professor Norman Oler, a long time member of the Mathematics Department in SAS, died on the morning of November 1, 2011. Born in Sheffield, England in 1929, he, his father and siblings immigrated to Canada and eventually the United States shortly after the Second World War. He was educated at Universities here and in Canada, receiving his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1957 from McGill University in Montreal under Hans Zassenhaus.

He came to Penn in 1963 from Columbia University and received Emeritus status in 1993. After his retirement, he continued actively teaching in the Mathematics Department for several years. In his mathematics, he was an expert in the Geometry of Numbers and in the allied field of packing and filling problems in Locally Compact Groups.

He was a gifted councilor whose advice both in the Department and University wide was often sought and this continued even after his retirement. Perhaps his most important role in this sphere was as director of the Penn-Israel Exchange Program--an exchange program for scholars University wide and their counterparts in the State of Israel. He was successful in raising considerable private sums for this program and had the full support of the University Administration as well as the support of the highest levels of the Israeli Government. In particular, he counted among his friends the then Prime Minister (now President) of Israel, Shimon Peres. He was also active in the Jewish Publication Society of America and, in this connection, was received at the White House and met then President Reagan.

In his private life, he was an avid wood worker during the 60's and 70's, especially toward the beautification of his home in Wynnewood. There, he and his former wife Jacqueline were gracious hosts for the occasional parties that followed the visit of colloquium speakers to the Department. He enjoyed singing, was musically trained and was knowledgeable about the world of Opera.

He leaves his son Col. Adam Oler USAF (an attorney) and daughter-in-law, Lt. Col. Kate Oler USAF, his daughter Dr. Allison Oler Szapary (an internist at Penn Health for Women in Radnor) and son-in-law Dr. Philippe Szapary, his brothers Charles and David, his sister Ruth Plotkin and he had two further sisters, the late Leah Oler and the late Frida Oler Warner. He also leaves five grand-children and his long time companion of his later years, Ria Weissel.