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Sheridan A. Simon (1947–1994)

Published onSep 01, 1994
Sheridan A. Simon (1947–1994)

Sheridan A. Simon, Jefferson-Pilot Professor of Physics at Guilford College, Greensboro, NC, died on April 8, 1994 after a short but intense battle with cancer. In his living, and in his dying, Sheridan demonstrated how human life can have a point. He did this, in the obvious way, with a myriad of achievements that fill the pages of a curriculum vitae: teaching awards, books and articles of science and science fiction, computer software and imaginary planets; and an expertise in Anglo-Saxon history. But his life had a point both deeper and rarer than this. Sheridan's passion for teaching (he taught a class 3 days before he died) opened the minds and spirits of his students to those things he found important: a sense of knowing who you are, a delight in the beauty of the universe, joy in searching and sharing new knowledge and humor about the human condition. He generated in his students a sense of their own worth, he made them proud and confident of themselves. He was able to share concerns, sorrows and hopes of both students and colleagues. He could unscramble seemingly complicated problems with a few well chosen and often humorous words. One of his most endearing characteristics was his marvelous sense of humor, at feature he retained — astonishingly — right up to his death.

Sheridan's lectures were legendary. As one of the most popular speakers in the area he could charm an audience with his sense of humor; his talks on black holes or habitable planets were well known to college audiences and the general public. He was one of the founding directors of the National Science Foundation grant that established the Three College Observatory and purchased its 0.81-meter telescope for central North Carolina.

Sheridan was born on 20 April, 1947 in Buffalo, New York. According to his family, at age 5 he announced that he was going to be an astrophysicist. He received his B.Sc: (cum laude) in physics in 1968 and his Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics in 1977, both from the University of Rochester. In 1974, he accepted a position on the faculty of Guilford College, where he remained until his untimely death.

Professor Simon was a great influence in the lives of many people, and we are glad to have known him as a friend. He will be sorely missed.

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