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Ethel M. Rathbun

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Rathbun, Ethel M.

Born September 15, 1932 in Fairfield Twp., MI, the daughter of Leland and Florence Davenport Rathbun. Her early education was in a one-room school. She graduated in 1950 from Sand Creek High School and from Cleary College in Ypsilanti in 1951. She worked in Ann Arbor from 1951 to 1960. From 1960 to 1967 she lived and worked in Germany. She joined the staff of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in May 1967 and quickly became a major supporting pillar of its activities. Her skills and warm spirit rabidly endeared her to both faculty and students. “Ethel” became know throughout the world’s mathematical community because of concern for all members of the department and the many students and international faculty constantly flowing through Ann Arbor. Her friendships ranged from members of the U.S./National Academy of Sciences to beginning graduate students. Indeed, one department chairman referred to her as “die Herr” of mathematics. She retired in 1994 after a distinguished career during which she always brought her behind-the-scenes competence and compassion to all with whom she came in contact. She particularly enjoyed travel. Her travels included visits to all provinces in Canada, except Prince Edward Island, and countries in all continents except Antarctica. She was predeceased by her parents. Survivors include sister, Mary Lou (Eugene) Terbush of Waterford, MI; brothers, Allen (Mary) Rathbun and Richard (Joyce) Rathbun, of Tucson, AZ. Survivors also include four nieces and three nephews; and six grandnieces and six grandnephews. Returning from a long planned vacation to visit her many friends in Germany, she was suddenly stricken en route home and died November 9, 2005. Cremation has taken place. A service is planned at the First Baptist Church in Weston, MI at 1:30pm for November 29. A Memorial Service to be held in Ann Arbor will be be held Wed. Dec. 7, 4 - 6 p.m. at the Founders Room in the Alumni Center. Memorial contributions may be made to the Scholarship Fund at Cleary University (3750 Cleary Dr., Howell, MI 48843) or The American Heart Association or The American Cancer Society. Burial will be in the Weston, MI cemetery.