Obituary: Brian E. Blank, professor of mathematics and statistics, 65

Brian E. Blank
Blank (courtesy photo)

Brian E. Blank, associate professor of mathematics and statistics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died of heart failure Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He was 65.

​Blank worked at Washington University in St. Louis for 38 years, starting as an assistant professor in 1980 and continuing as an associate professor since 1986.

Blank’s research interests in mathematics included representations of semisimple Lie groups and harmonic analysis on groups and symmetric spaces. He taught courses in calculus, statistics, analysis and other topics.

“Brian was very conscientious in everything he did,” said John McCarthy, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “As chair, I was most grateful that he did the teaching schedule. This not only meant solving the intricate problem each year of assigning instructors to courses (which required endless revisions throughout the spring), but he also assigned himself to teach any course that nobody else wanted to teach.”

Blank was an avid reader, and he contributed many book reviews over the years to the American Mathematical Society’s publication Notices of the AMS. Blank also co-authored several calculus textbooks with his Washington University colleague Steven G. Krantz.

Blank was born in Montreal, Canada, and earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at McGill University in Montreal. He earned master’s and PhD degrees in mathematics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Blank is survived by his wife, Anne-Sophie Blank, a French teacher at Incarnate Word Academy; their children, Andrew Blank, of Columbus, Ohio, and Alexander Blank, of Montreal, Quebec; and his brother Gary Blank, also of Montreal. He was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Gertrude Blank.

A funeral is planned for 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at New Mount Sinai Cemetery at 8430 Gravois Road, St. Louis. Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Louis Children’s Hospital or to the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

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