Paul Axt, Penn State mathematics Professor Emeritus and founder of the University Scholars Program (now Schreyer Honors College), died peacefully in State College at the age of 98 on March 8, 2023.
Born September 18, 1924 in Cambridge, WI to Doris Olson Axt and Alfred L Axt. Paul spent much of his childhood in northern Minnesota. So he loved to reminisce to family about braving frigid temperatures and large snow drifts on his way to school and summers spent camping at Trout Lake.
Graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University with a degree in mathematics, he went on to study theology, receiving his DD from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. While serving as pastor of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church of Cottage Grove, WI and overseeing the construction of a new sanctuary for the church, he began graduate work in mathematical logic at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Paul left his post in the ministry and began teaching at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA while finishing his thesis. While at Lehigh he met his loving wife Patricia whom he wed in 1958. Paul received his PhD in mathematical logic from Wisconsin in 1958. He subsequently taught at Michigan State and University of California Berkeley.
Drawn by the renowned mathematician Haskell Curry, Paul joined the faculty of Penn State University in 1963. After a sabbatical at the Sorbonne, he returned to State College to became Chairman of the Mathematics Department in 1971. He was a member of the Faculty Senate serving as vice chair from 1972-1973. In 1979, at the request of the University, he took on the challenge of designing and directing the University-wide scholars program. It was an overwhelming success and the pride and joy of his professional career. With an endowment by the Schreyers, the University Scholars Program became the Schreyer Honors College and the Paul Axt Prize is awarded annually in his honor. After retiring, he spent a year teaching mathematics in Malaysia, then he and Pat traveled the world and enjoyed spending time with their grandsons and family.
Paul is survived by his two daughters, Lisa Axt Alexander and Karen Axt; his son-in-law, Donald Alexander; two grandsons, Zachary and Gregory and multiple nieces, grand-nieces and grand-nephews who mourn the passing of Uncle Paul.
Friends will be received on Sunday, March 19, 2023 from 1 until 3 PM at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College.