Frank Reiff Bernhart
Frank Reiff Bernhart was born March 13, 1945, in Norman, Oklahoma, to Professor and Mrs. Arthur (May) Bernhart. Like his father, Frank was a gifted mathematician. He earned degrees at the University of Oklahoma (B.S.1967) The University of Michigan (M.S.1968) and his Ph.D. at Kansas State University in 1974. He is best known in the mathematical world for his many contributions to the solution of the famous Four Color Problem which was first posed by Francis Guthrie in 1842 and which was finally solved in 1976. Frank did post-doctoral work in graph theory and in combinatorics and optimization at the University of Waterloo before taking on assignments at the following colleges and universities: Shippensburg State College, Bloomsburg State College, King’s College, Wilkes Barre, PA, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Louisiana State University.
Over a period of some 20 years he corresponded with his friend Martin Gardner, the puzzle editor at Scientific American, about various puzzles and games, brain teasers, hexaflexagons and other mathematical curiosities. He is mentioned in several of Gardner's books. In addition to mathematics, Frank had many other interests. He was an avid bridge player, and loved the game of Go. He sang in Barbershop quartets, played piano and performed with two bell choirs. He had an extensive collection of the Oz books and was a fan of C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien. Frank was a committed Christian, a thoughtful Biblical scholar, a conscientious objector, and member of the First United Methodist Church of Champaign, Illinois.
On August 28, 1968, Frank married Judith Ann Edwards, a recent graduate of the University of Chicago. Frank and Judith are the parents of Allan Keith Bernhart of Elkhart, Indiana and a daughter, Susan Elena Bernhart, who lives in San Luis Potosí, México, with her husband Miguel Orozco Grimaldo.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, December 20, at 7:00 pm at First United Methodist Church, Champaign, with the Rev. Jerry Nichols officiating.
Cremation was entrusted to the Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm, Champaign.
Online condolences may be offered at www.HeathandVaughn.com.