Obituary: Taibleson, longtime math professor

Mitchell H. Taibleson, Ph.D., emeritus professor of mathematics in Arts & Sciences and a pioneer in the development of several areas of mathematics, died at Barnes-Jewish Hospital on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2004. He was 74 and a resident of St. Louis.

Mitchell Taibleson
Mitchell Taibleson

His family and companion, Marilyn Krukowski, Ph.D., professor emerita of biology in Arts & Sciences, announced that Taibleson’s death resulted from complications following recent surgery.

Taibleson was born in Oak Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, in 1929. His mathematical education was unusual.

He entered graduate school in the fall of 1958 at the University of Chicago without having earned an undergraduate degree. In two years, he earned a master’s degree; two years later, he earned a doctorate.

Washington University appointed him assistant professor of mathematics in 1962 and promoted him to professor in 1969. From 1970-73, he served as chair of the mathematics department.

He retired in 2000 after a very distinguished career.

Taibleson’s early work focused on function spaces, an area of mathematics with fundamental applications to engineering, physics and statistics. Soon after, he and his collaborators developed the theory of harmonic analysis on local fields.

He became interested in various statistical problems associated with the field of psychiatry and served from 1973-75 as research professor of mathematics in the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine. During this period, he published a number of technical papers on statistical issues in psychiatry.

Thereafter, he returned to the study of function spaces and began publishing a lengthy series of papers, resulting in his being acknowledged as a worldwide authority on the topic.

An important part of Taibleson’s career involved the teaching and mentoring of students and postdoctoral fellows. He was the dissertation adviser for 12 WUSTL doctoral students.

Taibleson is survived by his brother, Walter; his three children, Judith, David and Michael; and five grandchildren. His wife of more than 50 years, Charlotte, died in 2000.

A funeral will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 24 in the Mausoleum Chapel of the New Mount Sinai Cemetery in St. Louis.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made either to the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, 10950 Schuetz Road, St. Louis MO 63146; or the Reconstructionist Minyan of St. Louis, 6300 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63105.