R E Allardice

Stanford obituary

Obituaries Index


The death of Professor Allardice on May 6th, marks one more break in the thinning ranks of the Old Guard of Stanford. To the writer this break means the end of a long and intimate association extending over 35 years.

Professor Allardice was born in Edinburgh in 1862, and was educated in the schools and University of his native city. His brilliant career as student and instructor in the University of Edinburgh led to his appointment, in 1892, as Professor of Mathematics at Stanford, then in the second year of its existence.

Although but 30 years of age, Professor Allardice had already earned the reputation of a mathematician of unusual distinction.

Coming from the settled and conventional atmosphere of the old University City to the infant University at Stanford where conditions were very much in the pioneer stage, he entered with enthusiasm into his task of building up the department of mathematics, and soon became an important factor both in the scholastic development of the University, and in its social life.

In those remote pioneer days the faculty was sufficiently small to make for an intimacy among all the members which has necessarily, in the great increase in its size, and complex organization, to a great extent disappeared. It was also young enough to enter with zest into the various social entertainments, in which Professor Allardice played a prominent role.

In 1893, in association with three others he built a house and formed a small club, popularly known as "The Bachelors". The other members were Professor E. H. Woodruff, the first professor of law, and later dean of the law school of Cornell; Professor A P Carman, now head of the physics department at the University of Illinois; and the writer. For a good many years the club of four was maintained, but for a good many years it was reduced to Professor Allardice and the writer - both original members.

A man of remarkable intellectual gifts and wide culture, Professor Allardice was no recluse. He had marked social gifts, was an admirable talker with a fund of interesting and amusing anecdotes, and he had a keen interest in games of various kinds, in some of which he excelled. He was always in demand, and had a large circle of devoted friends at the University, and also in San Francisco and in his old home, Scotland.

As a young man he was fond of active outdoor exercise - golf, cycling, mountaineering, but except for golf these were later given up.

He made several visits to Europe, and also trips to the South Seas, but since the war his travels were confined to California.

Even before his retirement last year there were indications that his health had begun to fail, but it was not until last winter that the symptoms became alarming, and it was found that his illness was of such a nature that there was no hope of recovery.

He will be sincerely mourned by a wide circle of devoted friends here and in his homeland.

by Douglas Houghton Campbell

This obituary of Robert Edgar Allardice, written by Douglas Houghton Campbell, was published by Stanford University. The obituary mentions his love of golf but we also note the fact that in 1899 Allardice took a look at waterside options on campus and founded the Machrihanish Golf Club of California, also known as the Stanford Golf Club. He laid out a nine-hole course near Lake Lagunita, with rolled dirt for greens.