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Lyle Virgil Sladek
Oct 13, 1923 - Jul 15, 2012
Dr. Lyle V. Sladek, a former mathematics professor at California Lutheran University, died peacefully on July 15 at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. His family was at his side.
Born on a homestead ranch in Pukwana, S.D., Lyle was the fourth of eight children. In order to attend high school, he moved to Chamberlain, S.D., where he worked in a cafe to support himself. He was studying engineering at South Dakota State College when World War II began. Enlisting, he became a cryptographer, making sure codes weren't breached. Although he worked primarily on base, he made two dangerous flights over the Himalayas, known as the Hump, carrying supplies to China. His service to his country is portrayed in a book Lucky Stars and Gold Bars: A WWII Odyssey, written by his daughter Karen.
The GI Bill returned Lyle to South Dakota State University, where he met and married Patricia Knotts, a former member of the Cadet Nurse Corps also pursuing a college degree. Lyle earned a bachelors degree in mathematics in 1948 and a masters degree in speech and English in 1949. He taught at Black Hills State College and Dakota Wesleyan University before moving his family to Palo Alto, CA, where both he and his wife studied at Stanford University. He earned a masters degree in mathematics from Stanford University in 1963 and a doctorate in mathematics education from UCLA in 1970.
Lyle started teaching at CLU in 1963, two years after the school opened. Lyle was chair of the mathematics department from 1965 to 1976. In 1980 he took a sabbatical to teach mathematics in the Bahamas under a Fulbright grant. Upon retirement in 1994, he became professor emeritus. In retirement, Lyle continued his close ties to CLU and contributed to CLU's literary magazine. He frequented the library, cafeteria, and social and sporting events.
A master wood craftsman, Lyle liked to build things. He made all kinds of wooden toys. He also enjoyed puzzles, usually making his own. Lyle was also a gardener, growing lemons, oranges, pole beans and tomatoes, which he shared with his neighbors.
Lyle will be missed by his wife Patricia; daughters Susan Palewicz (husband John), Ann Humphreys (husband Gary Lange), Laura Sladek (husband James Grimes), Karen Ferguson (husband Norm); his grandchildren Natasha and Nick Palewicz and Farrah Ferguson; his sisters Virginia Jensen, Jean Rindels (husband Richard), and Wilma Smith and 20 nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Lyle's life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 4 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the CLU Advancement Office, 60 W. Olsen Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.