Obituary: Catherine Richards
Tuesday 04 May 1993
CATHERINE RICHARDS was for the last six years of her life Secretary and Registrar of the Institute of Mathmatics and its Applications (IMA).
She was born in 1940 and went to Newport High School for Girls and from there to Bedford College, London University, where she obtained her B Sc in 1962. After a spell as Information Officer of the British Oxygen Company she taught chemistry at St Joseph's Convent School, Abbeywood, from 1963 to 1965. She next became Assistant Editor for the Society for Analytical Chemistry. This was the beginning of her work as a scientific editor which continued to the end of her life. For when in 1970 she joined the staff of the IMA first as Assistant and soon as Deputy Secretary, one of her duties was to edit the institute's bulletin.
She kept on this task even when she succeeded to the top post in 1987. It suited her, and the bulletin she edited was very much appreciated by all the members of the institute. One of her other chief tasks was the organisation of many of the IMA's conferences. Not only was this also congenial work for her, but it enabled her to meet numerous members. She became a familiar figure in mathematical circles, and many came to appreciate her smiling helpful outlook. She thereby helped to make the IMA popular, pleasing old and recruiting new members at the various grades.
As the institute grew, she grew with her job. Heavy administrative burdens devolved on her, a good preparation for her work as Secretary and Registrar. She was tested by new developments, and took them all in her stride.
Indeed, what made her so popular was that in every situation she had a kind and friendly word for everyone. The first of these new developments was a purely domestic one: the acquisition and move into new premises in 1990. To manage such a transformation without interrupting the service to members required the able administrative leadership she gave. (Indeed, her capability as head of the office was perhaps particularly evident during her final illness, since she had trained and inspired the institute's small staff so well that planned events worked out normally in her absence.)
But it was the growing maturity of the IMA, together with the effects on the professions of European regulations and the ensuing mobility that led to two important new events: the granting of the IMA's Royal Charter in 1990 and the obtaining of chartered status for the IMA's Fellows in 1991. These involved huge labours which descended on Catherine Richards and her willing helpers, labours she carried through consummately and with a smile.
Her untoward death has robbed her many friends and the whole mathematical community of someone who had given much and, we all thought, had much more to give.
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