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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 82
RAYMOND LOUIS WILDER
November 3, 1896–July 7, 1982
BY FRANK RAYMOND
RAYMOND LOUIS WILDER, loved by his family, friends, students, and colleagues, was a pioneer in the emerging discipline of topology and attained international acclaim for his creation and development of generalized manifolds. He also had a lifelong scholarly interest in anthropology and the foundations of mathematics. This erudition resulted in many articles and two important books on the cultural origins and development of mathematics.
He was born in 1896 in Palmer, Massachusetts, and as a youth attended schools in that town. His family was musical, and he played the cornet in the family orchestra at dances and fairs. His flair at the piano resulted in employment at the local movie house to accompany the silent films. Love for music making never left him, although later he usually stuck with the classics.
Wilder entered Brown University in 1914. This was interrupted by World War I, and he served two years in the Navy as an ensign. He returned to Brown and completed his bachelor’s degree in 1920 and his master’s degree in actuarial science in 1921. In the meantime, he had married the charming Una Maude Greene. They had three daughters: Mrs. Mary Jane Jessop of Long Beach, California, Mrs. Kermit Watkins of Altadena, California, Dr. Beth Dillingham of