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Shayle Robert Searle
(April 26, 1928 - February 18, 2013)

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Shayle Robert Searle

Searle, Shayle Robert

Shayle Robert Searle, 84, died on the 18th day of February, 2013 in Ithaca, NY after a short battle with cancer. Shayle was the only child of the late Frank and Hazel Searle of Wanganui, New Zealand, where Shayle grew up. After earning his M.A. (First class Honors in Mathematics) in 1950, from Victoria University College (now Victoria University of Wellington), University of New Zealand he was employed for a year as an actuarial assistant, and in 1951 went to Emmanuel College, Cambridge as a Research Student. From there he earned the post-graduate Diploma in Mathematical Statistics, returning to Wellington in 1953 to be Research Statistician in the Herd Improvement department of the New Zealand Dairy Board. In 1956, on a Fulbright Travel Award, he came to Cornell, earned his PH.D. in 1958 and was then employed as a Research Associate for a year by the Animal Husbandry Department (as it then was). During this time he married Helen Mary Croshere of Waltham Massachusetts who predeceased him in 1992, and in 1959-1962 they lived in Wellington, New Zealand, where their two daughters were born. In Mid-1962 they returned to Ithaca, which has been home ever since. Professor Searle started at Cornell University in 1962 as a Research Associate for statistics in the then Cornell Computing Center. In 1965 he joined the Cornell faculty in the Biometrics Unit of the Plant Breeding and Biometry Department of the College of Agriculture of Life Sciences, rising to be professor by 1970. Through his eight books and 140 or more research and expository papers, Professor Searle has had a distinguished career, his specialties being linear models, variance components and matrix algebra. His lecture course on the latter topic was taught for 25 years at 8-9 a.m., resulting in his being well known by sleepy-eyed students who nevertheless respected his enthusiasm for mathematics early in the morning. In 1968 Professor Searle was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. He was a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the International Biometric Society and the New Zealand Statistical Association. In 1999 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the 'Honorary' indicating not only the meritorious nature of his work, but also that as a New Zealander living beyond New Zealand he had maintained professional ties with New Zealand. In 1984 he won a U.S. Senior Scientist award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Bonn, Germany. He used this for working at the Institut Mathematik, Universitat Augsburg, in Bavaria, Germany. During his career Professor Searle was a visiting Professor at Texas A&M University, Florida State University and Auckland University in New Zealand. At various times he presented lectures and short courses in Australia, England, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden and New Zealand. Shayle Searle is survived by Susan Searle Thomas, of Fort Mill, SC, Heather Searle Selvaggio of Jupiter, FL and Tracey Armstead of Freeville, NY and their respective spouses Ted Thomas, David Selvaggio and Charlie Ackerman. He leaves behind numerous sheep and dairy farming cousins in Waitotara, New Zealand. A memorial service will be held at Anabel Taylor Chapel on the Cornell Campus on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 1:00PM. There will be a reception immediately following the service at Kendal at Ithaca. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the Shayle R. and Helen M. Searle Visiting Lectureship Fund, c/o Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Roberts Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 14850. The fund was started on the death of Shayle's wife, and is designated for supporting visiting lecturers to the Biometrics Unit.

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