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A Rememberance of Victor Klee (1925 - 2007) by Bob Phelps

Submitted by Rose Choi on August 1, 2007 - 5:00am
Victor Klee

Victor Klee spent the 1955-56 academic year as a visitor at the UCLA Mathematics Department, where I was beginning my second year as a graduate student. Before he arrived, I overheard one of the faculty members refer to him as "the young hotshot from the University of Washington". I took his course on convexity and when I got stuck on a homework problem involving nearest points in convex sets, I started proving everything else about nearest points that came to mind. Vic (still "Professor Klee" at that point) made some helpful suggestions and encouraged me to write up and submit my results to the Proceedings of the AMS. Having that paper appear during my third year of graduate school was a tremendous morale booster. By that time, of course, I had transferred to the University of Washington to continue working with Vic, finishing in 1958. While at UCLA, Vic, his then-wife Bitsy and another faculty couple had generously invited my wife Elaine and me to be their guests at a concert. Not having met him previously, Elaine had somewhat nervously visualized meeting a rather stuffy European with a graying beard. What she pleasantly found, of course, was another clean-shaven pun-loving Californian about our age.

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