To Infinity and Beyond: Abe Nemeth’s Legacy

Deborah Kendrick, braille enthusiast and opinion columnist for The Columbus Dispatch, wrote an impassioned tribute to mathematician Abraham Nemeth, who died Wednesday, October 2, 2013.

“A certain kind of time changed the channel on Wednesday,” Kendrick wrote. “Abraham Nemeth, two weeks shy of his 95th birthday, died. Abe NemethHis loss is being mourned and commemorated throughout our country and beyond. Because of the Nemeth code and the brilliant example of the humble man who devised it, blind young people today do not hesitate to pursue passions in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

“For five years, I have been working on the biography of Abraham Nemeth. I have spent hours in his Southfield, Mich. apartment, listening to his memories, his jokes, his still-amazing piano playing.

“As sharp and brilliant at age 94 as any ordinary mortal one-third his age, his reservoir of memories and jokes seemed bottomless. ‘Will that one get in the book?’ he asked me more than once after regaling me with a joke or pun, limerick or riddle. He loved playing with words almost as much as numbers.

“Surrounded by his braille books — Jewish prayers, mathematics, philosophy and economics — and his numerous awards and honors (a bust of Louis Braille among his favorites), he quoted his beloved grandfather to me regarding the availability of time.

“‘What do you mean you don’t have time?’ his grandfather chided. ‘You have all the time God created.’”

Abraham Nemeth found the time to invent the internationally recognized Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation that forever changed the assumption that complex mathematics and science was beyond the reach of blind individuals. Read the full tribute, “Deborah Kendrick commentary: Mathematician opened many doors for the blind.”