Paul E. Schupp, 84, of Urbana, Illinois, passed away on January 24 in London, England, with his son, Jérôme, and daughter-in-law, Fiona, by his side after a short illness. Paul was born in East Cleveland, Ohio, on March 12, 1937, to Venna Schupp, a nurse; and Paul Schupp, a factory engineer.
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Paul was a passionate mathematician. Described by his friend and colleague Ilya Kapovich as “a true mathematical Renaissance man” for his unending and active interest in a wide variety of mathematical and artistic subjects, he exerted a major influence on the birth and development of geometric group theory. His 1977 book with Roger Lyndon, Combinatorial Group Theory, remains a classic in the subject to this day and it foresaw many ideas that later became central to geometric group theory. The impact of his work and ideas on the development of geometric group theory continues to be admired, and his loss will be deeply felt by the mathematical community.
Paul was an avid traveler, who spent time in many places across the world: Jamaica, Paris, Moscow, London, and Rome to name a few. Through his travels, he developed a passion for languages and would dedicate much time to learning the language of each country he visited. Traveling also became the opportunity to visit the many friends he made across the world, with whom he would share his interest in modern art, music, tai ji—and obviously mathematics.
He is survived by his son, Jérôme; his daughter-in-law, Fiona; and their family, who will all miss him enormously.
A memorial service will be held at his community church, the Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church, 2010 Three Hierarchs Court, Champaign, on February 25 at 8:30 a.m. Burial of his remains will take place at Mount Hope Cemetery, Champaign, at 10 a.m. on the same day. A celebration of life will take place at Paul’s home at 310 Eliot Drive, Urbana, after the service.