The following article appeared in ARMLog 98 and is reproduced with permission.
SPOTLIGHT ON . . .
SAMUEL J. BAETHGE
by George Berzsenyi
We take great pride in the great number of truly outstanding students of mathematics who participate in the annual ARML meets at our various sites. Indeed, they are the best young mathematical problem solvers of the United States of America and of the Province of Ontario! They are our most treasured hopes for a brighter future. It would be wrong to shift the spot light away from them.

Unfortunately, with the emphasis rightly on our talented mathletes, at times we may fail to note that the ARML meets also represent the yearly gatherings of some of the most outstanding teachers of mathematics. They are the ones who make ARML a reality year after year with incredible devotion, hard work and expertise. It would be nearly impossible even to list the many different areas in which they must all become experts in order to assure that the ARML meets continue to be wonderful celebrations of mathematics. Hence it is most appropriate to recognize at least some of these truly outstanding teachers.

Sam Baethge, the recipient of the 1997 Alfred Kalfus Award, has been the leader of the Texas teams since 1983. Throughout these years, he has been the sole organizer of the participation of Texas in ARML, a role that includes the selection of the students, their year-round coaching, as well as the many strategic and financial activities related to the long and expensive trip to the ARML meets. Having done that job for three years, I am most aware of its enormity!

I first met Sam in 1981, when he joined me on my second trip to ARML with the Texas teams. The following year, I asked him to serve as the co-leader of our teams, and I was so impressed with his performance that I saw no reason for my continued involvement. (I was just asked to chair the committee in charge of AIME; hence I also had a good ``excuse'' to withdraw from ARML.)

Never before have I seen anyone who had such a perfect rapport with the students. He won their love and respect immediately. He was also comfortable with the many challenging problems we used for the preparation of the teams, and could hold his own when it came to the solutions. With several future winners of the USAMO on our teams, it was no small task to keep them mathematically stimulated. Therefore, I was most confident that the fledgling Texas Mathematics League would truly flourish under Sam's able leadership. Needless to say, it did, and it continues to do so. As we are about to celebrate his eighteenth year at ARML as the leader of the Texas delegations to the annual meets, it may be appropriate to comment on his many other accomplishments as well.

Sam Baethge was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1939, and was raised on a cattle/sheep ranch near Fredericksburg, Texas, his parents' home town. He graduated from Texas Lutheran College in 1962, receiving a BS in Mathematics, with minors in English and Physics. He was subsequently commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, and briefly studied Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma as an Air Force assignment. After his release from active duty, he returned home to operate the ranch. He taught for 30 years: in Fredericksburg (1966-72), in San Antonio (1972-88), and in Austin (1988-96) before retiring. In the early years, he taught full-time despite operating the ranch.

Presently, he lives in Nordheim, Texas, where his wife, Edwina, is a Lutheran pastor, serving two congregations. Sam and Edwina have two lovely daughters, Kathy and Barbara, both of whom are ARML veterans. I have very fond memories of both of them, since they were on my initial ARML teams. Edwina and Sam are also the proud grandparents of Kathy's lovely one-year old daughter, Theresa.

During his career as a full-time teacher, Sam was the recipient of several awards, including the Edith May Sliffe Award (in 1991 and 1994), the Rose-Hulman Outstanding Teacher Award (in 1989), and the Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Scholastic Award from Stanford University (in 1996). The 1997 Alfred Kalfus Founder's Award is an appropriate addition to these, in recognition of the incredible services he has provided throughout the years to the entire mathematical community.

Fortunately, his retirement from active teaching did not affect his involvement with ARML; he continues to select and coach the Texas teams, and make all the arrangements for their continued participation in the meets. He is also an active problem poser for the AJHSME, AHSME, and AIME, and a frequent contributor of problems and solutions to the problem sections of various mathematical publications. Hopefully, he will continue to enjoy all of these activities for many more years.


Dr. George Berzsenyi is Professor of Mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.