In Memory of Dennis O'Shaughnessy
It is with sadness that we announce the recent passing of Dennis O'Shaughnessy.
Dennis received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Saskatchewan in 1968, and accepted a faculty position in the department soon afterward. He remained on faculty at the University of Saskatchewan until retirement, more than 40 years later.
Dennis was instrumental in determining the nature and character of his department, and in particular, in shaping the statistics component of the department. Very early in his career he introduced a number of applied statistics courses, and in 1992 he was successful in having the name of the department changed from "Department of Mathematics" to "Department of Mathematics and Statistics." He is remembered as a superb teacher, and mentor both to students and to junior colleagues.
Dennis was an early and enthusiastic advocate for a national statistical society. He saw the importance of a national organization that would connect statisticians in all sectors, whether in major centres or far-flung small groups. In those pre-internet days, SSC business was conducted from home, late at night by telephone, when long distance rates were discounted. Dennis saw working on SSC business and the annual meeting as important factors in breaking down the isolation of Canadian statisticians.
Dennis served on the board of the Statistical Science Association of Canada/Association canadienne de science statistique from 1973, the year after its incorporation, until it evolved into the SSC, and then continued on the board of the SSC from 1979 until 1981. He was SSC treasurer from 1989–1993. In those early days of the Society, the most important thing was keeping the SSC alive and active on a shoestring budget—something Dennis understood well, while raising visibility for the SSC and promoting the broader goals of bringing together academic and “blue-collar” statisticians, and ensuring that students would get involved and become enthusiastic supporters of the SSC.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Dennis' non-academic interests included life on the farm, curling and hockey—only hanging up the blades this past spring. A true Saskatchewanian. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Amin Adatia, Dennis O'Shaughnessy, John Brewster, Brian Allen at the SSC in 1999
(Photo courtesy of Peter Macdonald)