John Grenville Saw

The IMS Bulletin
Vol.20, No.5, 1991, 434.

John Grenville Saw: 1934 - 1990

John Grenville Saw, Professor of Statistics at the University of Florida, Gainesville, died on 26 December 1990, after a long illness. He is survived by his mother, Eva Maude Saw, and his sister, Brenda Marrs, both of Coventry, England.

John Saw was born in Coventry on 4 November 1934. He received his BSc in Mathematics from the University of Birmingham in 1955 where he was also awarded the Corbett Prize in Mathematics. His PhD was completed at the University of London in 1959 under the direction of F. N. David. While completing his doctorate, he served as an Assistant Lecturer in Statistics at University College London and as Lecturer in Statistics at Regent Street Polytechnic Institute. Upon completion of his graduate training he spent a year with the Department of Statistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as an Associate Research Professor. He then returned to University College London where he spent two years as an Assistant Lecturer in Statistics and served as a consultant to Arthur Guinness and Company, Limited.

In 1962 he once more journeyed to the United States, this time with the intention of making it his permanent home. He spent three years as an Associate Professor of Statistics at VPI---Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg---and in 1965 he joined the faculty of the Statistics Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He was promoted to Full Professor in 1969 and, except for one year as Visiting Professor of Statistics at VPI, spent the rest of his career at the University of Florida. He was elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1964 and an Ordinary Member of the Intemational Statistical Institute in 1981.

John Saw personified excellence. His research interests spanned a wide range of specialties: multivariate analysis, distribution theory, order statisfics, stochastic processes, renewal theory, and random variables on the m-sphere, orthogonal group, and simplex. He made fundamental contributions to the area of censored data analysis through a widely cited series of papers published in Biometrika. An expert in linear models and multivariate analysis, he published papers on these subjects in journals such as The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, Journal of Multivariate Analysis, Technometrics, and Communications in Statistics. Later in his career he focused his research activities on zonal and ultraspherical polynomials and on families of distributions on the m-sphere. At the time of his death he had just completed a senior graduate level text entitled Multivariate Distributions: An Alternative Approach.

The 15 PhD graduate students supervised by John Saw remember him as being very patient and generous with his time. He was a very effective teacher at all levels and his classroom presentations were a model for all who want to be teachers. His lucid presentations were marked by his dynamic style---his enthusiasm for his discipline was contagious. The class notes that he provided in his graduate courses are treasured resource material.

He was also very helpful to his colleagues, always willing to discuss research topics with anyone who sought him out. Many of them profited from his global knowledge, which provided key insights into a wide variety of research areas. He was nonetheless a very modest person who often refused citation as a contributor to an elegant proof or key developmental idea. John Saw was instrumental in the establishment and growth of the Department of Statistics at the University of Florida, Gainesville. His practical skills as a communicator helped to make the establishment of that department a priority within the university, and his scholarly record gave it credibility within the statisfical profession at large. For many years he was the graduate coordinator for the Statistics Department and he willingly served on a variety of committees that helped shape the research and teaching within that department and around the University. His many years of dedication to the Department of Statistics and the University of Florida, Gainesville, were formally acknowledged on 1 September 1990, when the departmental library was designated the John G. Saw Library.

He will be remembered by many for his brilliance and compassion, for his warmth and generosity, and for his wit. He has left a void that no one person will ever be able to fill. His students, colleagues, and friends will forever benefit ftom their contacts with him.

Norman L. Johnson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Ronald H. Randles, University of Florida, Gainesville
P. V. Rao, University of Florida, Gainesville
Walter L. Smith, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dennis D. Wackerly, University of Florida, Gainesville

Copyright © 1991 by the Instistute of Mathematical Statistics


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