Cleon Yohe Jr., emeritus professor of mathematics, 70


Cleon R. Yohe Jr., PhD, emeritus professor of mathematics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Tuesday, June 26, of cancer. He was 70.

Yohe earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1966 and joined the Washington University faculty that same year. He was promoted to associate professor in 1971 and later served as chairman of the graduate program in mathematics. He retired in 2010.

His mathematical research concerned ring theory, a branch of abstract algebra, but he later became interested in computers and programming languages.

“Cleon was regarded as a very effective teacher who cared deeply about his students,” says Edward N. Wilson, PhD, emeritus professor of mathematics. “He did a splendid job as chair of the graduate program.”

“Cleon was universally appreciated for his collegiality and competence,” says Guido L. Weiss, PhD, the Elinor Anheuser Professor of Mathematics.

In 1965, when Yohe was a candidate for a position at WUSTL, Weiss was asked to inquire about Yohe’s reputation at the University of Chicago. “I spoke with I. N. Herstein, who was his PhD thesis adviser,” Weiss says. “He told me that Cleon was very versatile and would be a most useful colleague. It turned out that he was absolutely correct.

“Cleon was an algebraist; however, he had many interests. He knew much about computers, was a very good teacher of courses in a wide area of mathematics and was most liked by his students.”

Moreover, Weiss says, Yohe was always willing to help others across the university. Back when computers were new, he sat down with members from the Department of Molecular Microbiology in the School of Medicine and worked with them until they were comfortable with the new machines.

“His office was next to mine,” Weiss adds. “I really miss him and so do my colleagues.”

Yohe enjoyed learning science and languages and listening to music. He made musical instruments and played the banjo, guitar and violin.

He is survived by his wife, Doris, of Fenton, Mo., his son, Karl, of Santa Monica, Calif., his sister, Linda Helbig, of Mesa, Ariz., his stepson, Brian Bradshaw, and three step-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis, 1058 Old Des Peres Road, St. Louis, MO 63131.