West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 14 | September 5 - 11, 2007


Robert G. Payton, 78, professor of math

By Albert Amateau

Robert G. Payton, professor emeritus of mathematics at Adelphi University and a Village resident for 40 years, died Aug. 15 at the age of 78.

Born the son of Paul and Ada Wright Payton in 1929 in Louisville, Ky., he graduated from the Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Yale University.

From 1953 to 1955 he served in the Army and then went to Harvard University where earned a doctorate in applied mathematics in 1959.

Robert Payton did post-doctoral work at the Courant Institute of New York University and worked for Avco Corp.’s Research and Advanced Development Division in Wilmington, Mass. While at Avco, he taught evening classes at Northeastern University in Boston and decided on an academic career.

He was appointed associate professor of mathematics at Adelphi University in Garden City, L.I., in 1964 and came to live in the Village. He became full professor at Adelphi in 1971, the same year he married Marlene Hanson, a fashion designer from Boston. He and his wife of 36 years made their home on E. 12th St.

Payton published 48 works on mathematics, including an acclaimed work in 1983 on anisotropic elastic wave propagation. For many years, he was treasurer of the Metropolitan New York Section of the Mathematical Association. He spent his sabbaticals in the U.K. at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and the University of London and at the University of Yamagato in Japan, where he lectured in 1997. He retired from Adelphi in 1999. A soft-spoken man with a touch of wit, he was an avid historian.

In addition to his wife, a sister, Dorothy Bennett, of Evansville, Ind., survives, as well as several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, Fifth Ave. at W. 12th St., at 3 p.m. Sun., Sept 23.

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