Iraj Kalantari, an emeritus professor of mathematics, died in Chicago, Illinois on June 2, 2019 at the age of 72. He served as chair of the Department of Mathematics and Philosophy at Western Illinois University from 1999 until 2018. He retired after 40 years at WIU yet remained active with his research up until he passed away. Iraj was a gifted mathematician and teacher who made numerous contributions in the field of mathematical logic and had a lasting impact on generations of students and countless colleagues.
Iraj was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to the United States when he was 18 years old. He received a B.S. degree in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He received his M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics and his Ph.D. in Mathematical Logic from Cornell University.
Throughout his life, Iraj was an educator. He was generous with his time, offering his expertise and knowledge to students, colleagues, and friends. He was also instrumental in the education of his children, siblings, and cousins, setting an example for a way of life and providing endless guidance. He loved teaching and was renowned for his prowess in the classroom, receiving three outstanding faculty awards from WIU. He taught a formal way of thinking to his students, part of which he detailed in his book PROOFS: From Schematic to Prose: Part I: Logic, Sets, and Elementary Topics.
Iraj was a talented logician who authored numerous papers and delivered presentations at many professional conferences. In recognition of his accomplishments as a logician, Iraj received a researcher of the year award from the Sigma Xi Society and an outstanding researcher award from the College of Arts and Sciences. He was also honored by his selection to deliver the 2009 University Hallwas lecture and the 2015 University Last Lecture. In 2003, Iraj was one of a handful of mathematicians who organized the Logic, Algebra and Arithmetic Conference in Tehran, Iran. The proceedings of the workshop were later published as a book, Logic in Tehran.
For Iraj, logic was not just an academic subject, but a way of life. He spoke and wrote with meticulous care and sharp precision.
Over the course his 40-year career at WIU, Iraj helped build a flourishing Department of Mathematics, recruiting several exceptional logicians and inviting prominent speakers in diverse fields of mathematics and logic. For many years, Iraj hosted an annual Mathematics Teachers Conference at which academics from across the country would gather at WIU. During his final year at WIU, Iraj served as a member of the Program Committee for the 2018 conference of the Association of Symbolic Logic (ASL), which was held in Macomb, Illinois in recognition of his contributions to the field.
Aside from his academic pursuits, Iraj also loved games and puzzles?including chess, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and card games. He also created his own puzzles, including one called Sherwood Forest, which was published in both the American Mathematical Monthly and Harpers Magazine, and The Three Spheres, which was published in Math Horizons. The range of his interests included not only science and mathematics but also philosophy, photography, music, and certainly cinema. Iraj was an avid cinema aficionado and took great joy in detecting intricate details about movies.
Iraj was a loving father and husband. He was kind and thoughtful towards all who entered his life. He was a wonderful man and beloved by his family. He was generous, thoughtful, funny, and wise. He loved playing games and joking around, particularly with his children. He is survived by his wife,Rosalyn; his daughter, Sara; his son, Leo; his two grandchildren,Dylan and Chloe; his siblings, Bahman, Laleh, and Khosrow; his son-in-law, Robert; his sisters-in-law, Azam and Afsaneh;nephew, Arshaun; and niece, Ayda.