Obituary for Eleftherios C. "Terry" Zachmanoglou


Eleftherios C. "Terry" Zachmanoglou was born in Thessaloniki, Greece.  He came to the US in his late teens to be a student at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, NY, where he received a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and an MS in Engineering Mechanics.  He received his PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962, at which time he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Purdue.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in1965 and to Professor in 1970.  He retired in 2014 after more than 50 years on the Purdue faculty and was appointed Professor Emeritus.

During the period 1957–65 he published papers on wave propagation and mechanics, and he co-authored a book with Enrico Volterra, his advisor at RPI, on the Dynamics of Vibrations.  From1962 until 1983 he published around 30 papers in the theory of partial differential equations and in 1976 wrote, together with colleague Dale Thoe, a beginning graduate text Introduction to Partial Differential Equations with Applications (reprinted by Dover in 1986) which was widely used.  Terry was a Fullbright Fellow (in Rome) in 1965-66.

Terry served as Associate Department Head from 1981-93.  In that role he oversaw the very considerable teaching function of the department. He was widely respected by colleagues for the balanced way he performed those duties – while emphasizing the importance of research, he also insisted that all faculty and teaching assistants could, and should, be good teachers.  His office door was always open and he was available for a friendly chat about teaching, other departmental issues, or just the events of the day.

Around 1990, Terry became deeply involved in the development of new freshman engineering calculus courses, MA 165 and MA 166. After stepping down as Associate Head, Terry continued taking a keen interest in these introductory calculus courses for engineering and science students, working hard to improve both their content and the delivery.  His efforts were recognized with a Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2004.  His name appeared more than once on the list of the “10 best teachers” in the College of Science

Terry was a fervent advocate of American democratic values, seeing them as the natural extension of the cultural values with which he had grown up.  During the Vietnam War he helped found the Purdue Student Peace Union, served as its faculty advisor, and was instrumental in bringing anti-war activists to campus.   

While a strong advocate for what he saw as American values, he also remained close to his Greek roots.  He frequently travelled to Greece and generously shared his love of Greek culture with friends locally.  He was a frequent and gracious host and delighted in serving traditional Greek dishes.  Many colleagues have fond memories of dinners and parties at his house.

Terry is survived by Lynne, his wife of many years, and his stepson Nathan.  Also surviving are Terry’s children Katina (husband Bill), Nike, and Cary, with his first wife Dr. Maria Zachmanoglou, and Chloe (husband Najib), with his second wife Dr. Vasiliki Keramida, as well as three grandchildren.  He has requested that there be no memorial service and that his ashes be returned to Greece.