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Memories of Lynne

If you have memories of Lynne or a tribute you would like to share, please contact us.

From: Patricia Burton

Lynne Walling was a beautiful and powerful force of nature.  I met her when I took a promotion to be the program manager of the Mathematics department at CU Boulder back in 1994.  From the first moment she walked into my office, I knew she was something special, and we became fast friends.  We went through a lot in that department, as so many people know and we grew very close through all of it.  I was so proud of her when she received her much deserved tenure, and even prouder when she became a full professor and then Chair.


The most valuable thing that Lynne taught me was how to stand in your power, and to not let anyone take you down.  But at the same time, to maintain your love, sense of humor and humanity even when you do not believe you have that strength inside of you.


Lynne was an incredible friend who encouraged me in my artistry, and was always my biggest fan.  She was constantly dabbling in art herself, and at one time spent countless hours, up night after night, building bird and squirrel houses for her little house in Longmont, CO, and gifting as many as she could to her friends.  She designed and made all the clothes that she wore with a 1920’s trundle sewing machine.  She even made her own workout clothes recently when her friends invited her to a climbing wall.  I laughed so hard trying to picture that!   One day she told me she was playing around with making earrings, so I joined her for a day in playing with beads and wire.  Out of that I became a very successful jewelry artist, of which I still am today, and it was Lynne that planted that seed and then nurtured that for years.


I love you Lynne and will miss you more than you can imagine.  I always dreamed you would return to Colorado, where we could hang out again, and get old and fat together.  So, I send a prayer that you are a force of heaven now, and to let you know we miss you here in Colorado too!  I also know that your sweet fur babies are with you now, which gives me comfort and solace.


Rest in peace Lynne.  Be there at the gates when it is my time!


Memories flood back

Dustball, Kyopy and Gus

Together again…

From: Dan Fretwell

Lynne was a vibrant member of the Number Theory community, working on interesting problems concerning quadratic forms and theta series. She was also a highly encouraging person, in particular an active supporter of equality and diversity in Mathematics.

I first met Lynne at one of her highly successful Building Bridges events here in Bristol. As a PhD student she gave me the opportunity to speak in one of the prime time slots, and gave me far much more time to speak than I probably deserved. Years later she told me that she remembered thinking, “Who is this Dan Fretwell guy? He sounds cool, let’s give him a chance!”. She did and we always remembered that talk…mainly for my ability to make someone vomit halfway through. This was a running joke and since then I’ve tried to only give short talks…

Since meeting Lynne we instantly became the best of friends. She has been a constant support to me as well as an amazing colleague and collaborator. We organised local seminars together (Heilbronn seminar), as well as study groups and events (Automorphics Anonymous!).

From: Jess Jay

Lynne was a truly amazing woman, a brilliant mathematician and a wonderful friend.

Her passion for teaching and work towards equality in the Maths community is inspiring. As an undergraduate student Lynne taught me the foundations of higher-level mathematics; she put so much effort into making all her lectures entertaining and understandable. As a postgraduate student Lynne became a true friend; we bonded of similar past experiences and being able to talk with her about this was a huge comfort.

I will always remember Lynne as the fun-loving woman she was and as the person who would fight for others and what she believed in. I have many fond memories of nights out with Lynne and others; making up silly answers together at the pub quiz, playing Coup (Lynne always bluffing about not knowing the rules and then winning) and nights spent with Lynne, Dan and Thomas playing shuffleboard until the early hours of the morning. Lynne was always the life of the party and I, like many others, will miss her.

You will always be in our hearts Lynne.

From: Jay Jorgenson

For many years, meaning decades, Lynne was my very close friend and colleague.  We spoke frequently, often several times each week and sometimes many times each day.  Lynne thought deeply about the world of mathematics and mathematicians, and she often used the word “community”.   When someone encountered unfairness on any level, she felt their struggle.  Lynne had a lifelong quest to address the wrongs she saw.  I was privileged to listen to Lynne as she brought her ideas into focus when preparing talks, and I was honored when she asked me to work with her on various projects.  Lynne helped me greatly when I faced difficulties, and she shared in the triumphs I enjoyed.  Lynne was a significant part of my life, and of my family, and we all will miss her so very much. 

From: Bill Moran

Lynne entered my life in the spring of 1991. She was at CU Boulder and I was visiting there for a few days from Brigham Young University in Utah where I was spending half a year working with Andy Pollington, while I was on leave from the University of Adelaide.   We met at a CU Math Dept  faculty party and chatted and chatted. After I went back to Utah the conversation continued at length on the phone in the evenings. One night we talked till 5 in the morning. After the end of semester, she came over to Utah and spent a month with me. I was helping Andy run a number theory conference at the time and Lynne got heavily involved in the organisation.   At that meeting she was, as always, the life and soul of the party. 


We spent a romantic month together in Utah before I went back to Australia with a few days at the end back in Boulder. I have many wonderful memories of this period. We drove up to Deep Creek Reservoir and watched dawn come up, accompanied by an otter.  There was the morning when we dropped off my student at the airport in Salt Lake and we headed into town to eat breakfast at 6.30am. The only place that was open was a hotel and, after we'd eaten, we discovered there was no way a non-hotel guest could pay.  Then we returned to Lynne's car to find a note on the windscreen from the police saying that we were illegally parked but, since we were clearly from out of state, they would let us off this time. Free breakfast and free parking!  Lynne and I thought that Salt Lake was the best city in the world.  There was the morning my student noticed a marijuana seed on the carpet, the visit to the gay bar in Salt Lake, the drive back to Boulder over the Rockies when she was screaming at the oncoming traffic to stay on their side of the white line - her car was called Hildegard by the way.  I could go on. 


Lynne visited me in Australia  that Christmas for a few weeks - a holiday on Kangaroo Island was memorable and not just for  the bed bugs. She distributed her amazing home made crazy earrings to my friends who have fond memories of her. All of my friends delighted in her.  It is fair to say that she shook up our lives.  Didn't she do that with everyone? 


Our relationship continued at a distance - with me coming to the US whenever feasible  - for a couple of years - visiting her quirky (what about Lynne wasn't quirky) house in Longmont. My son, Paul, visited her on the day that her cat died and ended up cooking her a meal while she was unconsolable.  She and I held  a faculty party there,  where we cooked enough pakoras to feed a regiment! I left her with an admittedly small freezer full of them.  


I was part of her life through her struggle to get tenure in CU - not a good time for Lynne when clear personality biases that had nothing to do with Lynne's great ability both at mathematics and at interpersonal skills intervened.   But she fought that battle - and fought it hard -  and won decisively. It is ironic that I note from reading an obituary that she later became Head of that department. 


She and I would have a very different way of doing mathematics. She would just sit down and calculate for hours. I would quickly scribble a few notes and then want to walk around and think - or talk to someone in front of  a blackboard. She would typically have a glass of wine or two before getting into the mathematics of an evening. 


Interestingly she always said that I would eventually "pitch her over" but in the end it was she who "pitched me over" - in Halifax Nova Scotia at a Number Theory meeting - another memorable event. - the sad flight from Halifax to Boston that I knew would be our last together. 


We met again later when I was visiting Washington DC and she was at the NSF and would have several meals  together.  During the entire time we were interacting, Lynne  was always full of passion and life - happiness and sadness in fairly equal quantities.   I don't think anyone who loved Lynne ever totally falls out of love with her. 


At about the same time as I was falling in love with Lynne I was also falling in love with sailing. I bought my first boat shortly after her visit to Australia. To use a sailing analogy, everyone's life has several course corrections. Some are just slight adjustments of the rudder and consequential sail set, others are major tacks or, worse in some ways,   gybes where the boat dramatically changes course and sail position. I've had a handful of  major course adjustments - gybes -   in my life. Lynne was most certainly one of them. 


At that time - and let me say that, sadly,  I don't know much of the later Lynne - she was a free spirit with enormous presence.  When she walked in a room it was as if  a light was turned on.  It was difficult to imagine Lynne settling into a comfortable old age, and  she didn't. A light has gone out of the world. 

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