Ralph Eugene Root
1879 - 1961

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R.E.Root c1900
Ralph Eugene Root
1900
R.E.Root c1956
Prof. Ralph E. Root
c1956

Prof. Ralph E. Root, Ph.D., Senior Professor Emeritus of the United States Naval Postgraduate School and a long-time resident of Annapolis, Maryland, died September 23, 1961 in Franklin, New Hampshire near his summer home in Sanbornton, at the age of 82 years.  He is survived by his wife Mary K. Batcheller Root, two sons, Capt. Lloyd E. Root, USN and Ellis P. Root, two daughters, Olive Root Meader and Charlotte Root Tuttle, and nine grandchildren.  Prof. Root was laid to rest September 28, 1961 in Glen Haven Cemetery, Glen Burnie, Maryland.

Ralph Eugene Root was born in July 1879 in Trenton, Grundy County, Missouri, son of Lewis Fletcher Root and Sarah E. (Pollock) Root.  As a young man in 1883, Ralph Root moved with his parents to Akron in Plymouth County, Iowa where they homesteaded township section 23.  Ralph lived on the prairie farm until about 1900, attending Stony Point country school and high school in Akron, Iowa.  Mr. Root then attended Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and earned the Sc.B. degree in Mathematics in 1905.  He received the M.Sc. degree in 1909 from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, then studied at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois under the eminent mathematician E. H. Moore and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics, Summa cum Lauda, in 1911.  Prof. Root's doctoral dissertation, "Iterated Limits in General Analysis" is still in use as one of the fundamental reference works for mathematics.

Ralph Root married in December 1904 to Mary Keziah Batcheller of Finchford, Iowa (near Cedar Falls).  During his advanced education, Prof. Root was a mathematics instructor from 1906 to 1910 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  From 1911 to 1913 he taught at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.  In 1913 he accepted a teaching position at the United States Naval Academy and moved to Franklin Street in Annapolis, Maryland as Professor of Mathematics and Mechanics.  When the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) was created at Annapolis in 1914, Prof. Root became the first civilian professor in the Postgraduate School.  When the NPS restarted after World War I, Prof. Root served as Head of the Department of Mathematics and Mechanics from 1919 to 1946.  Morningside College of Sioux City, Iowa awarded an honorary Sc.D. degree in 1942. 

Prof. Root retired from teaching in 1946 with the title Emeritus, the first professor in any of the service schools so named.  Prof. and Mrs. Root celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1954 at the Officer's Club of the U. S. Naval Academy with all of their children and grandchildren.

Prof. Root was an elder of the Calvary Methodist Church in State Circle, Annapolis and active in civic affairs.  After his retirement in 1946, Prof. and Mrs. Root purchased seven acres of land and a 1763 farm house in Sanbornton, New Hampshire, adjacent to the Calef Hill Farm that his son-in-law, Dr. Ralph G. Meader, had purchased in 1938.  From 1946 through 1961, Dr. and Mrs. Root wintered in Annapolis for October into March and lived at the farm in New Hampshire for April through September.

In addition to his textbooks and scientific writing, Prof. Root authored a historical novel, "The Prairie Pebble" based on his personal experiences growing up on the American prairie in the late 19th century.


RedBall  A Century of Mathematics at the Naval Postgraduate School – [video]
Prof. Carlos Borges, Chairman, NPS Applied Mathematics, 2011
RedBall  Family Record Page, Ralph Eugene Root
RedBall  50th Anniversary Family Gathering, Dec. 1954

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[This page last updated 27-Apr-2011]

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