Ken Darby-Dowman, 1948-2011

August 4, 2011

Ken Darby-Dowman was described by colleagues as "the perfect gentleman" and by students as "a true inspiration and mentor".

Professor Darby-Dowman was born on 3 April 1948 in Belfast, but moved to Lancashire as a child. As an undergraduate he studied statistics at the University of Bradford, receiving a first in 1970, and it was there that he met his wife-to-be Anne, a fellow statistician.

In 1973, he joined the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster). In the 18 years he was there, he rose from lecturer to head of the division of mathematical and decision sciences. During this period he took a two-year sabbatical and moved with his wife and three children to join the University of South Carolina's College of Business Administration as a visiting associate professor.

In 1991, Professor Darby-Dowman was appointed a lecturer at Brunel University; within a decade he had become head of the department of mathematics, taking on the role of head of the School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics in 2006. Two years after that, he stepped up as pro vice-chancellor for strategy and staff development and then, in 2010, pro vice-chancellor for student experience and staff development.

Robert Macredie, professor of interactive systems at Brunel and a close colleague of Professor Darby-Dowman, said: "Ken was a consistent support to all he worked with, and his warmth and approachable nature made him a wonderful confidant. He had a fantastically dry sense of humour, often making it hard to tell when he was joking. But those who knew him could spot the twinkle in his eye that told you when he was being mischievous."

Professor Darby-Dowman was editor of the IMA Journal of Management Mathematics and published more than 60 papers over the course of his career.

Outside work, he was described by his children as having "a better social life than them". He enjoyed travelling, food and wine and was a fan of Blackpool Football Club. He had a passion for canoeing, a sport in which both his sons competed internationally. He was due to retire this autumn and had planned to travel to South America and study Classics at The Open University.

Geoff J. Rodgers, pro vice-chancellor (research) at Brunel, said: "Working with Ken involved lots of laughter, and one would learn a great deal from him. He liked to tell anecdotes; as he himself observed, once he found one he enjoyed, he made full use of it. He was passionate about all sports, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of most of them. His contributions as an academic and leader were informed by a gentle good humour."

Professor Darby-Dowman died on 5 July 2011 while on holiday. He is survived by his wife and three children.

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