E T Copson's tribute to Arthur Hinton Read

Arthur Hinton Read, a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at the University of St Andrews, was killed in an avalanche in Glencoe on 2 December 1961. A Memorial Service was held in St Salvator's College Chapel on 9 December 1961. E T Copson, Regius Professor of Mathematics, gave a tribute to Arthur Hinton Read which we give below.

E T Copson's tribute to Arthur Hinton Read

When this University was very much smaller than it is today, joining one of its Colleges was like becoming a member of a family, to which belonged not only the students and staff, but also the wives and children. In St Andrews, this family life centred round Bishop Kennedy's church, where we met for family worship, where the children were baptised, the daughters married and where we sometimes said a sad farewell to a senior colleague grown old in the service of the University. Today we say goodbye to a younger member of our family, a colleague whose happy career has come to an untimely end.

Arthur Read was not an alumnus, but he was in a very real sense a child of the University. Much is expected of university children. Those who were privileged to know Arthur as a child watched him grow up with pride and great hopes. They saw him as a small boy at school in St Andrews, as the Lady Katharine's page, at Lathallan, as a scholar of Marlborough, and as a major scholar of St John's College, Cambridge, with every prospect of a brilliant career as a mathematician. But the war interrupted his studies for over five years, and he decided to return to teach in his old school, where, with his athletic attainments and social gifts in addition to his scholarship, he would undoubtedly have reached a very high position.

Fortunately for us, Professor Turnbull suggested to him that he should come back to St Andrews and pursue an academic career. He rapidly proved himself a brilliant teacher. His students always found him kindly, sympathetic and willing to help, and many are now writing to express their gratitude. He went to Harvard on study leave, and gained his doctorate in far less than the normal time. For he was quickly recognised as a mathematician of great maturity and insight, and his early promise was now fulfilled by outstanding research in a difficult field. We shall always be grateful to him for promoting the study of mathematics in St Salvator's College both by precept and example.

It is not only as a scholar that he will be sadly missed. His happy disposition, his sense of humour, his kindliness, his integrity made him a great influence for good both in the department and in the College. When he did disagree with one, his quiet friendly way of explaining his point of view always commanded respect and never gave offence. A colleague who shared a retiring room with him for over ten years said that there never was a cross or angry word uttered there.

He came on to the staff so late that he had not yet risen into the higher councils of the University, where his wise approach to University affairs could have proved invaluable. Nevertheless, he did play a very full part in the life of our community, as Lecturer, as Warden of Deans Court and as Regent. His wise advice and willing help will long be remembered by his pupils, his colleagues and his
many friends.

The whole University family grieves over the loss of one of its happiest and most brilliant children. We are assembled here today to do honour to his memory and to express to his widow and children, to his parents and relations, our most sincere sympathy. May God be with them and with him always.

Last Updated September 2023