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In memoriam: Charles Parry, emeritus professor of mathematics


BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 10, 2011 – Charles Parry, professor emeritus of mathematics in the College of Science, passed away Saturday, Dec. 25 after a long illness.

Parry was best known for his passion for teaching mathematics and as a relentless Appalachian Trail volunteer.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1971, Parry established a research program in number theory and published 37 papers. He delivered invited lectures in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and the United States. He served his profession has a proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation and the Canadian Research Council.

Parry taught courses at all levels of the curriculum, won awards for his teaching excellence, and supervised eight doctoral dissertations. He participated in the design of mathematics courses for computer science majors and was greatly admired and respected among his colleagues.

“He couldn’t do enough for his students,” said Bud Brown, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Mathematics. “He didn’t have one ounce of ego in the classroom. It was the student first, and the math second. He was a distant third.”

Even with failing health, Parry continued to teach last fall, and was advisor of the Math Club.

Parry was a relentless Appalachian Trail volunteer for nearly 40 years. As a trail supervisor, he was in charge of approximately 120 miles of trail.

Raised in Camden, N.Y., Parry received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York College at Oswego, a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

Parry is survived by his wife, Gloria Parry, a brother, a sister, four stepchildren, four step grandchildren, two nephews, and a niece.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy or the Roanoke Valley SPCA.

Those in the university community who may wish assistance or desire counseling support may contact:

Referrals to a campus cleric may be done through the Dean of Students Office at (540) 231-3787.

The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biological sciences, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college offers programs in cutting-edge areas including, among others, those in energy and the environment, developmental science across the lifespan, infectious diseases, computational science, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The College of Science is dedicated to fostering a research-intensive environment that promotes scientific inquiry and outreach.