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Floyd Fiske Decker1

Male
b. 23 March 1881, d. 28 November 1949


Mother Hannah Lucretia "Lou" Amos1 b. circa 1856
Father Alonzo Wertz Decker1 b. 18 July 1850, d. 6 March 1925
Pop-up Pedigree

Family Mary Makepeace b. circa 1886
Marriage* after 1910  Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY, Principal=Mary Makepeace3 
Children  1. Elizabeth Decker b. c Dec 1923
  2. Robert M. Decker b. c 1927

Biography*   (excerpts from Recollections by Erik Hemmingsen, a professor of Mathematics at Syracuse University)

In the early 1900’s and up through the 1920’s, the Liberal Arts Department of Mathematics had some real quality. William Henry Metzler, for instance, had found a proof of a conjecture about the relation between the coefficients of the characteristic polynomial of a square matrix and the determinants of some of its minors. Furthermore, he was the one who first pointed out that one could have the transcendental functions of a square matrix simply by substituting it into the appropriate Taylor series. Another, Professor Rowe, had a very fine collection of early books on mathematics, some quite rare, which he left to the University on the condition that they be kept in the Mathematics Seminar Room in the Carnegie Library. There must have been something of a graduate program in mathematics because Floyd Fiske Decker obtained a Ph.D. in it during the 1920’s. Decker eventually became a professor in the department and in 1947 was one of just two full professors. He was also the one who founded the evening extension program of the university and directed it very competently during its earliest years.

When I arrived in 1947, my salary as an instructor was the same as Decker’s ($3500 a year); the university had not seen fit to respond to the wartime inflation and Decker was being paid what he earned in the 1930’s when that sum was a very good salary. When Decker retired in the summer of 1948 or 1949, he gratefully received a job teaching a course at University College, then located just a couple of blocks from downtown Syracuse. One cold snowy day in early December, the buses were not running and Decker walked up the hill home to his house located on Comstock, where there is now a dormitory. He got home, but his heart failed him, and he was hospitalized. I got his evening class to teach, and was curious about his fate anyhow, because I had learned to regard him highly as a colleague and a decent human being. Consequently, I called the hospital a day or two later to ask about him. The voice on the phone told me that Professor Decker is doing as well as can be expected. To this I replied, "And what do you expect?" It was shocking to hear the voice answer, "He is still with us, but probably won’t last until supper time." He did not last.

When Decker died, the Department inherited his very extensive mathematics library, much of which was eventually sold to buy numerous volumes of journals to fill the holes in the departmental library.

(from the Syracuse Univeristy Archives, History of PiMu Epsilon)

The Pi Mu Epsilon Journal was first published in November 1949, and its Volume 1 Number 1 contains: a photograph and on pp. 1--7 a biography of Professor Roe by May Naramore Harwood, a charter member of Pi Mu Epsilon and SU faculty member; on pp. 8--12 a history "The earliest days of Pi Mu Epsilon" by Floyd Fiske Decker, also a charter member, vice-director 1914-1922 and SU faculty member; and on pp. 13--14 Greetings from the Director-General for 1949-50 Professor C. C. MacDuffe of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He noted that Professor Ruth Stokes of SU had consented to serve as editor of the new journal (she served 1949-1955). The next issue, Volume 1 Number 2 has a one-page obituary of Floyd Fiske Decker, by Louis Lindsey. In May 1964 at the 50th reunion there were almost 100 chapters & 45,000 members. 
Note*   Floyd was a math professor at Syracuse University. He received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 1910.1 
Birth* 23 March 1881  Denison, Grayson Co., TX1 
Census* 1910  1910 Federal Census, New York, Onondaga County, Syracuse, Ward 17, ED: 180, Series: T624, Roll: 1057, Page: 47A, April 25
Sheet 6A, 729 Ostrom Avenue
(enumerated with Sarah Freeland)
42, 97, 122, Decker, Floyd F, Lodger, M, W, 28, S, , , , Texas, Ohio, Ohio, , , English, Professor, University, W, No, 0, Yes, Yes, , , , , 1, 3, 6 x2 
Marriage* after 1910  Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY, Principal=Mary Makepeace3 
Census 1920  1920 Federal Census, New York, Onondaga County, Syracuse, Ward 17, ED: 211, Series: T625, Roll: 1250, Page: 85B, January 6
Sheet 5B, 312 Marshall Street
71, 100, 131, Decker, Floyd F, Head, O, F, M, W, 38, M, , , , , Yes, Yes, Texas, , Ohio, , Ohio, , Yes, Professor, College, W,
72, 100, 131, Decker, Mary, Wife, , , F, W, 33, M, , , , , Yes, Yes, New York, , New York, , New York, , Yes, None, , ,
73, 100, 131, Decker, Elizabeth, Daughter, , , F, W, 6 0/12, S, , , , Yes, , , New York, , Texas, , New York, , , None, , ,
74, 100, 131, Makepeace, Viola, Mother-in-Law, , , F, W, 63, Wd, , , , , Yes, Yes, New York, , New York, , New York, , Yes, None, , ,3 
Census 1930  1930 Federal Census, New York, Onondaga County, Syracuse, Ward 16, ED: 34-104, Series: T626, Roll: 1629, Page: 213A, April 3
Sheet 9A, Block 1526, 312 Marshall
48, 31, 44, Decker, Floyd F, Head, O, 25000, R, No, M, W, 48, M, 28, No, Yes, Texas, Ohio, Ohio, , 87, , , , , Yes, Teacher, University, 8794, W, Yes, , No, ,
49, 31, 44, Decker, Mary, Wife-H, , , , No, F, W, 44, M, 24, No, Yes, New York, New York, New York, , 56, , , , , Yes, None, , , , , , , ,
50, 31, 44, Decker, Elizabeth, Daughter, , , , No, F, W, 17, S, , Yes, Yes, New York, Texas, New York, , 56, , , , , Yes, None, , , , , , , ,
1930 Federal Census, New York, Onondaga County, Syracuse, Ward 16, ED: 34-104, Series: T626, Roll: 1629, Page: 213A, April 3
Sheet 9A, Block 1526, 312 Marshall
51, 31, 44, Decker, Robert M, Son, , , , No, M, W, 2 9/12, S, , No, , New York, Texas, New York, , 56, , , , , , None, , , , , , , ,
52, 31, 44, Makepeace, Lila, Mother-in-Law, , , , No, F, W, 73, Wd, 24, No, Yes, New York, New York, New York, , 56, , , , , Yes, None, , , , , , , ,4 
Death* 28 November 1949  Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY1 
News/Obit* April 1950  From the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal, Volume 1, Number 2, April 1950.

FLOYD FISKE DECKER
1881 - 1949

THE death of Dr. Floyd Fiske Decker, November 28, 1949, brings to a close a life devoted to the teaching of mathematics. Born March 33, 1861, at Dennlson, Texas, he spent his undergraduate years, 1897-1901, at Syracuse University where he received the degrees of Ph.B., 1901, Ph.M., 1905, Ph.D., 1910.

Following some outside teaching, Dr. Decker returned to Syracuse University where he was a member of the mathematics faculty from 1904 to the time of his death.

He belonged to various honorary societies but was always most closely associated with those of the department of which he was a member. He was a member of the first mathematics club of the University and a charter member of Pi Mu Epsilon. At the founding of Pi Mu Epsilon, Dr. Decker was elected the first vice-director.

Aside from his work in mathematics he will be remembered especially for his work as the first Director of the Extension School, now known as University College. Plans for the Extension School occupied his mind during his waking hours from the beginning of the school until it became so large that a full-time director was necessary. Dr. Decker's efforts had already placed the school on a firm foundation.

Dr. Decker will be long remembered by the many members of the faculty with whom he was associated and by the many grateful students who passed through his classes, for he was a patient, thorough and conscientious teacher.

In 1910, he married Mary Makepeace, a member of the class of 1907, besides whom he leaves a daughter, Mrs, Elizabeth Corwln, a son, Robert Decker, and two grand children.

Louis Lindsey

*Dr. Decker was the author of the article "The Earliest Days of Pi Mu Epsilon" which appeared in the first issue of this Journal.1 

Citations
  1. [S595] Gene Buck Family Info., Gene Buck.
  2. [S73] 1910 U.S. Federal Census , 1910 U.S. Federal Census.
  3. [S247] 1920 U.S. Federal Census , 1920 U.S. Federal Census.
  4. [S248] 1930 U.S. Federal Census , 1930 U.S. Federal Census.


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