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News Release

January 16, 2007


Michael Peña, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-4275,

Isolde Field, longtime member of Mathematics Department, dies at 81

Isolde Field, a staff member in the Mathematics Department for almost half a century, died on Jan. 2 at her Palo Alto apartment. Field, 81, had previously been diagnosed with cancer but remained an active employee at the time of her death.

Field was first hired by the department in 1958 as a technical typist, subsequently serving as department secretary throughout the 1960s. Skilled at her job, Field was well known for her cheerful expertise in typing up mathematical papers in the days before personal computers made it customary for most faculty members to type their own work.

Over the years, Field typed for many prominent mathematicians, including Stanford professors George Polya, Gabor Szegö and Stefan Bergman. She also regularly took on large projects, such as typing the complete manuscript for a book on partial differential equations by David Gilbarg and Neil Trudinger—a work that became a standard reference in the field.

But her principal contributions to the department were the ones she made on a more personal level, according to Leon Simon, the Robert Grimmett Professor of Mathematics. Simon recalled that Field was "intensely loyal to the department and its faculty, fostering a sense of well-being for generations of graduate students, countless visitors and a steady stream of junior faculty and postdoctoral scholars."

Simon said many who remembered Field for her kindness and concern for others' welfare as a result remained in touch after they left Stanford. He added that Field would help new arrivals find suitable accommodations, offer encouragement and moral support for those in difficulty and, for those who regularly came into the office early, brew up strong coffee.

Field is survived by sons Werner of San Jose and John of White City, Ore.; daughters Cindy of San Jose and Ellen of Soldotna, Alaska; and grandchildren Nicole, Audrey and Nicolas. Her husband of many years, Paul Field, died some years before.

They were married in 1946 in Germany, where Isolde was born and raised. She met Paul, a graduate of West Point, while he was stationed in Germany as an Army pilot with the Allied forces after World War II. Two years later, they moved to the United States and eventually settled down in California in 1958.

A memorial service for Field will be held in Memorial Church on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. A reception on campus will follow, the location of which will be announced at the service.

The family has requested that donations in remembrance of Isolde Field be made to the Cabrillo College Foundation-Horticulture Center, Attention: Melinda Silverstein, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA 95003. The phone number is (831) 479-6338.


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