Math professor at UT also had love for flowers


Edward Ebert, a retired professor of mathematics at the University of Toledo who was recognized with its outstanding teaching award in 1966 and was a World War II and Korean War veteran, died Tuesday in Macon, Ga.

He was 88 and died unexpectedly of pneumonia and organ failure, his son-in-law, Tony Drzewiecki, said.

Mr. Ebert taught at UT for more than 40 years, leading classes ranging from calculus - his personal favorite - to a Rubik's Cube class in the adult continuing education department, his daughter, Sue Drzewiecki, said.

In class, Mr. Ebert was good at illustrating his points and showed great empathy for students who had trouble understanding, said Curt Black, a longtime family friend who took calculus from Mr. Ebert in 1970.

Away from the university, the soft-spoken, gentle Mr. Ebert was known by children for the popcorn balls he made at Christmas. And his dry sense of humor made him the life of adult parties, Mr. Black said.

"He was just someone who could interact with people at all levels," Mr. Black said.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Ebert advised students in the college of arts and sciences.

"The students just loved him. He was so good with them," said Virginia Black, Mr. Black's mother and a friend of the Ebert family for 70 years. Her husband was a colleague of Mr. Ebert's at UT.

Mr. Ebert started teaching at UT in 1947 as an assistant professor of mathematics, soon after he returned to the area from World War II when he served in Iran.

He left the university in 1951 to work in weather prediction as a first lieutenant with the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Field near Dayton.

He returned to UT about two years later and remained there until he retired in 1984. He continued to teach several quarters a year as a professor emeritus until 1989.

He and his wife, Dorothy, moved from Toledo to a retirement community in Macon, Ga., called Carlyle Place, in 2001 to be close to their only child.

Mrs. Ebert, who taught music in Washington Local Schools for years, died in 2002.

The couple married in 1941 after meeting at a UT sorority-fraternity party when they were both students.

Mr. Ebert was born in New Orleans, the son of a minister who was called to the former St. Matthew's English Lutheran Church on Putnam Street, when Mr. Ebert was 6 or 7, his daughter said.

Mr. Ebert graduated from Scott High School in 1936. Four years later, he graduated summa cum laude from UT, where he studied math. He was awarded a scholarship to the University of Iowa where he received a master's degree in math in 1941.

From there, he went into the military, working with balancing cargo on planes. After discharge, he was employed for a short time as an actuary in Philadelphia, but realized he wanted to work with people instead of focusing so much on numbers, his daughter said.

Numbers, however, remained a lifelong love.

For years, whenever he wasn't otherwise occupied he would work on determining the largest prime number or disproving mathematical theories.

"Riding in a car, if he wasn't driving, he would always have his nose buried in a notebook," his daughter said.

Another favorite activity was origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. In waiting rooms, he would quickly fold a piece of paper into a frog, reindeer, penguin, or a bird and present it to others, often children.

Mr. Ebert enjoyed gardening and raised a huge variety of flowers, including cannas, gladioli, roses, and begonias. In the 1960s he competed in flower shows.

"He just really appreciated the beauty of the flower," his daughter said.

He crocheted afghans, making about 20 including many in a red, white, and blue design to celebrate the country's bicentennial in 1976.

He was on a university bowling team in the 1960s and 1970s and he enjoyed auditing classes at the university, sitting in on about a dozen French and German language classes over the years.

Surviving is his daughter, Sue Drzewiecki.

Visitation will be this morning at Carlyle Place in Macon. Graveside services in Maumee have yet to be scheduled. Hart's Mortuary in Macon is handling arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to the University of Toledo Foundation for the Edward D. Ebert Academic Scholarship Fund.