Remembering Richard Guy

It is with great sadness that G4G notes the death of Richard Guy (30 September 1916 – 9 March 2020). 

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A photo with Richard and Louise Guy in Banff, Canada, taken in 2005 I think at a combinatorial games workshop. I recall Louise saying shortly after this photo was taken that she felt sorry for people who couldn’t or wouldn’t do two things: (1) cook for themselves; and / or (2) exercise, by which she meant hiking. Richard ate one meal a day for many, many years. I asked him when he started doing that, and I don’t recall his reply, but do remember thinking “wow, that is years before my parents were born.”(ie 1935) The button Richard is wearing was part of his usual math conference attire, also for years and years. It reads (I think) “Peace. A disarming concept.” Here’s Richard K Guy in the background (right) after he indulged Aaron Siegel and me with our request that we have a “tour” of his office at the University of Calgary. Richard shrugged, showed us in, and then sat down to continue working while we browsed his books. This was taken in January, 2011. Another photo with Richard K Guy. It’s from 2015 at MSRI in UC Berkeley. From left to right, Aaron Siegel, Elwyn Berlekamp, David Eisenbud, Thane Plambeck, and Richard K Guy.    Thane Plambeck

Terribly saddened to hear of the passing of Richard Guy this morning. A loss to the mathematics community. Hugely influential. [He] Was a mountain climber into his 90’s. He was 103 — I’m celebrating a life very well lived!!


Neil Calkin

My heart is so sad. Richard Guy, famed number theorist and G4G attendee has passed away at 103 years old. I met Richard through Martin Gardner. Martin was the one who told Richard about the Strens Collection and the University of Calgary purchased it. When I was there Richard gave me a personal tour where I saw original books including some with personal book plates by M.C.Escher. Richard was a treasure and he will be greatly missed. I am grateful to have many great memories of Richard. Thank you Richard for your incredible contribution to mathematics.


Tanya Thompson

I remember when he eluded Colm Mulcahy who had gone to pick him up at the airport, in 2018. Riding the subway on his own to G4G13, leaving me and various people helping with the organization perplexed and worried. Only to answer the phone when someone called him up in his hotel room. He seems to me, to have been a steady and calm force of nature, as men and mathematicians can only aspire to be.


– Tiago Hirth

That smile and his infectious good-humour were wonderful. I didn’t spend much time with him, but what time I did spend with him was wonderful. Desperately sad to hear of the passing of Richard Guy. A giant in his field, and a wonderfully kind man. It was a privilege to know him. Words can’t express …


– Colin Wright

He always was a delight to see. I think he’s part of the reason why I started asking, “are you causing any trouble?” Well, him and Conway.


– Veronica Kai Young

I’ve been lucky enough to have met with great people through life, namely outstanding mathematicians. Richard Guy holds a very special spot in my heart and I will treasure his memory — and of his wife Louise — as long as I live. Because, apart from being the exciting mathematician and author that he was, Richard lived a full life of infinite depth in many a realm, touching me in ways which enumeration this note is too short to contain.


– Jorge Nuno Silva

2 years ago I was having lunch with him and said he was in his prime (101) and he had a good chuckle. He was the very first person I spoke to at the first conference I ever attended. I was lost and asking for directions and had no clue who I was talking to. Something he later found funny as well.

I’m really going to miss him. We spoke at nearly every conference I have ever attended. I’m glad that though unpublished that was able to give a talk that he attended (front row no pressure or anything) and part way through the the talk he looked pensive then started grinning. Afterwards he told me he had never seen a technique like it and looked forward to when I was ready to publish. Apart from correcting my spelling he said that he found nothing that looked incorrect but admitted that at his age he was not sure if he had given a deep enough look. Because it’s the twin primes getting the peer review is pricing me out. I greatly enjoyed talking to him and really wanted a to see him again soon because at 103…I knew there wasn’t much more time.


– Elijah Allen

Cindy Lawrence kindly shared these pictures of MoMath’s 2015 MOVES conference commendation of Richard Guy, John Conway, and Elwyn Berlekamp.

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