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George Fegan, former chair of the Department of Applied Mathematics, passed away December 20, 2016. Dr. Steve Chiappari ’84 notes, “George played a vital role in the Department of Applied Mathematics and the School of Engineering, serving as a faculty member, academic advisor to students, and departmental chair as well as assistant dean for graduate programs for the School of Engineering. He began teaching part-time in the department in 1982. He took a full-time position in 1987 and was appointed chair of the department in 1990. He stepped down as chair in 2004 and retired from the department in 2005. All of us who have had the privilege of knowing George have appreciated his friendship, witty sense of humor, wonderful work with students, and sage advice. We have missed seeing him in the office. May his spirit continue to live in all of us whose life he has touched.”
George Fegan was born in San Francisco in 1935. If you took his word for it, his boyhood paper route extended over most of the Eureka Valley, Castro, and Mission. After terrorizing the nuns at Most Holy Redeemer, he went on to become student body president at St. Ignatius, where he was an all-state hurdler. He held a BA from USF, master’s degrees from SJSU and SFSU, and a PhD from OSU. He was a lifelong educator, teaching high school English for years before becoming a math professor at Santa Clara University, where he was department chair and an associate dean.
He made his pasta from scratch. He gave Johnny Mathis his first gig. His basketball nickname was the Butcher. Or the Hammer—one of those. He once relieved himself upstream of George H. W. Bush. He got his master’s in English and then his PhD in math because why not? As an altar boy, he nearly burned down the church; this was possibly an accident. His mustache was better than yours. He was the only white person to work at Henry’s Hunan Restaurant. He was a published poet. He was a published mathematician. He was a terrible rabbit hunter. He had gout, the disease of kings. He was George Lucas’ favorite high school teacher. He hated Reagan. He had eight toes. He could still arm wrestle you under the table at 80. He was a professor emeritus without ever receiving tenure. He once flew halfway around the world to show up on his future wife’s doorstep unannounced. Most of this is true.
His family—wife Sophie Chung Fegan; children Jeff Fegan ’79, Debra Meyer, and MacKenzie Fegan; scores of grandchildren, nieces, and nephews—will miss his mushroom risotto and questionable sense of humor. They will not miss his singing voice.
Notes of condolence may be sent to his wife, Sophie, in care of the Department of Applied Mathematics.