College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Mathematics

Tyre Newton


Professor Emeritus, Tyre Alexander Newton, passed away on June 16, 2009 after a short battle with cancer. Tyre was born on December 28, 1921 southeast of Morris, Oklahoma. His father, Theodore Newton, furnished land and equipment for several farmers in that area and in return received a share of the crop, which was primarily dry land cotton. Tyre's mother, Priscilla, was a typical farmer's wife who, in addition to cooking, milked the cows and maintained a large garden.

Tyre attended school in Morris, where he graduated from high school in 1938. He attended the Junior College in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, for a year and then attended Colorado A & M - now Colorado State University - in Fort Follins, Colorado. In June of 1940 Tyre joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was assigned to Brooks Field, Texas. During his time on assignments at Goodfellow Field (San Angelo, Texas) and Perrin Field (Denison, Texas) he earned an aircraft mechanic rating and rose to the rank of sergeant.

In 1942, Tyre got the urge to fly rather than fix aircraft. He earned his pilot's wings, but shortly afterward suffered an accident that caused partial hearing loss in his left ear, which left him grounded. Toward the end of World War II he was again cleared to fly airplanes and concluded his Army career as an engineering officer and engineering test pilot. At the end of the war he was discharged as a First Lieutenant.

Tyre returned to Colorado A & M and earned his B.S. degree in mathematics in 1949. Among other jobs during this time, he worked one summer in an Alaskan gold field. He continued his education by attending graduate school at the University of Georgia and went on to earn both an M.A. and a Ph.D. (1952) in mathematics.

Upon completion of his Ph.D., Tyre accepted a position at the University of Nebraska. In 1955 he moved to his alma mater, Colorado A & M, and in 1958 he came to Washington State University as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics. He moved through the ranks and became Professor of Mathematics in 1977. In the spring of 1987 he retired from Washington State University.

During his time at WSU Tyre energetically participated in all aspects of departmental life. Through the years he oversaw the visiting lectureship program, prepared exhibits, advised students, reviewed existing courses and introduced new ones. He supervised several masters students and two Ph.D. students (James Beck and Clayton M. Knoshaug).

Tyre's teaching responsibilities covered everything from calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations, through applied mathematics and dynamical systems. His research program, initially, was on the solution and nature of differential equations, and he used computers to investigate the properties of such equations. Later, his research moved to the study of dynamical systems, especially those with strange attractors or chaotic solutions. The double strange attractor found by Tyre and Roy Leipnik has received some attention in the math and physics communities.

During the summer of 1967 Tyre was a consultant for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Pasadena, California. There he became familiar with the EAI 7800, a large analog computer interfaced with a Univac 1108 digital computer. Tyre learned to use the analog computer to illustrate differential equations and their properties. In the fall of that year when he returned to WSU, the Mathematics Department obtained an EA TR-30 desktop system along with an analog computer, an analog plotter and an oscilloscope for his office. This was the first computer housed in the Mathematics Department and can be seen today in the Newton Computer Laboratory.

Tyre became a strong advocate of computing in both mathematical research and mathematical instruction. He incorporated the analog computer, and later the digital computer, into his classes. Through his persistence and persuasive skills, and the help of others, computers became an integral part of many mathematics courses at Washington State University. In honor and recognition of Tyre's advocacy of computing, as both a teaching and a research tool, in 1987 the Mathematics Microcomputer Laboratory was renamed the Tyre A. Newton Microcomputer Laboratory.

Tyre also viewed the WSU libraries as an essential resource for sound instruction and productive research. It was through his efforts that the mathematics collection of monographs and periodicals grew during the 1960's and 1970's into an outstanding collection. For this exemplary service Tyre received the 1982 WSU Library Faculty Award.

In everything he did, Tyre was eager to impart his knowledge to others whether it was in the classroom, in the hallways, on walks, or over a beer. He frequently acted as an unofficial mentor to graduate students and young faculty members often helping them make the right career choices for their future.

In 1949, Tyre and Jeanette Jent were married in Fort Collins, Colorado. They had two daughters, Marcia Louise Nanea and Priscilla Marie Call, and one son, John Theodore. They later divorced. In 1976 Tyre went on a faculty exchange to Clemson University, South Carolina, where he met Eleanor Reynolds and they were married in November 1977. Tyre gained three stepchildren through this marriage: Keith Reynolds, Frederick Reynolds, and Julie Reynolds. He also has two grandsons: David and Jeffrey Call, and three step grandchildren: Tara Rochester, Donald Reynolds, and Tiffany Reynolds.

Tyre had many pastimes outside of mathematics. He was an avid fisherman who was always willing to share his love of fishing with others. Frequently, he would take a person fishing in his boat at a nearby lake with the intent to convert that person into a fisherman. When he retired in 1987 he joined a writing group at WSU and wrote many short stories, several of which discussed his early life and his time at WSU. In November 2002 Tyre and Eleanor moved to Graham, Washington where he continued his writing. During his time in Graham he enjoyed exploring the Seattle area using the public transit system.

Tyre was cremated and is interred at Tahoma National Veterans Cemetery. In August there will be a memorial for him: a "Celebration of His Life". Tyre was a first-rate mathematician, a valuable member of the Department of Mathematics at Washington State University, and a good friend. He always had a smile and was always ready with a helping hand. He will be missed by many.

Department of Mathematics, PO Box 643113, Neill 103, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3113 Phone: 509-335-3926 Fax: 509-335-1188 Contact Us