My friend Jon Borwein

I met Jon in 1989, soon after my arrival to America. We knew each other by our publications while had never even seen each other’s photos. Jon liked to mention from time to time on various occasions a funny thing from our first meeting. When he asked me how old I am, I replied as people do in Russia with the last two digits of the year I was born. But Jon responded in the Western way with his calendar age at that moment. As a result, it appeared to me that Jon was 10 years older than I, and to Jon that I was 10 years older than he, although we definitely didn’t look like that!

For all these years we were friends, family friends as well. We visited each other many times, stayed in each other’s houses, talked a lot on various topics; by far not only in mathematics. For us (Margaret and me) to visit Jon and Judi was also a way to learn geography since the Borweins often moved from one place to another. Jon and I co-authored several papers, but they were surely not the main things in our friendship and relationship.

Jon Borwein was a genius, no doubt about it. He was extremely broad in mathematics and its application (I personally do not know anybody like him in this respect) and was a strong leader in all of these directions. With all his fantastic energy and passion, Jon was the most active organizer and administrator of the highest level. He did many things outside of mathematics and its applications and had a great success in all of them. He may start to do something that requires years of preparation and quickly get the highest achievements in them; his swimming was a good example. Jon was very smart, always generated striking ideas and passionately pursued their implementation.

Although Jon had strong opinions in everything important for him, he was tolerant and respectful, always trying to understand other viewpoints, e.g., in politics and religion. Overall, he was a real mensch.

Friends knew that the major reason for Jon to accept a 4-month position at Western Ontario was to take care of his parents. He died several days prior his and Judi’s return back home to Australia. It has been determined that his eternal home on the Earth will be a Jewish cemetery in London, ON, not far from the place he grew up. [Boris Mordukhovich, Wayne State University]

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