Norbert Lerner

Norbert Lerner passed away on Friday, May 3, 2013, his 83rd birthday.

He was born in 1930 in Kehl, Gemany, the only son of Fanny and Bernhard Lerner.  He emigrated from Germany to the United States in August 1939 on the legendary last voyage of the S.S. Bremen, narrowly escaping the Holocaust in his home country.

He settled with his parents and his two sisters, Manya and Gerda, in Paterson, N.J., where he learned English, attended school and quickly discovered an aptitude for mathematics.  He went on to attend Montclair State University as an undergraduate and then earned graduate degrees in mathematics from both Columbia and Syracuse Universities.  Between his degrees, Norbert served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, from 1953-55.

Norbert joined the Mathematics Department at SUNY Cortland in 1957, while simultaneously continuing his research at Columbia and Princeton into the 1960s.  He became a full professor at SUNY Cortland in 1979 and was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1980.  He was a prolific writer, authoring 29 mathematics textbooks which were translated into numerous languages and used to teach worldwide.  He retired from SUNY Cortland in 1993.

Norbert leaves behind Karin, his wife of nearly 55 years and the great love of his life since their high school days in New Jersey.  He also leaves behind his three children, David, Ellen, Robert; and six grandchildren, Andrew Lisa, Matthew, Lindsay, Madeline and Sam; as well as his sisters who continue to live in New Jersey.

In addition to the extraordinary academic accomplishments, Norbert will be remembered for his understated charm, enduring patience, quick wit and his adoration of the extended Lerner family.