Obituary: Professor James Pegler

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The Independent Online
On retirement from Clerical Medical and General in 1975, Jim Pegler joined The City University to become Course Director in Actuarial Science and later Professor of Actuarial Science, writes Professor Steven Haberman. It was a critical time since the B Sc programme in Actuarial Science had been established only one year previously.

Jim brought with him, of course, considerable experience of senior management in the insurance industry and a formidable professional reputation, but had had little direct contact with academics, students and their worlds. Both Jim and the academic environment at City took time to adjust to one another. Soon he was accustomed to university administration and politics and had established himself as an entertaining lecturer in his favourite subject of financial mathematics.

He had a good rapport with students, despite the obvious age difference, relishing both academic and social contact. He was known as a deceptive squash-player who would lull naive students and junior staff into believing he was exhausted before an unexpected recovery resulted in his delivering the coup de grace. Perhaps his one weakness was an incomplete appreciation of the importance of academic research.

With 1979 came a second retirement and, like the first, it was incomplete. He continued to teach at the university on a part-time basis but also now devoted himself to mathematics teaching at a comprehensive school in Dorking, where he groomed promising students for higher education. In these later years, his love of, and delight in, mathematics, particularly pure mathematics, grew. Given the practical nature of his professional training and career, this development was unusual.

It is a tribute to Jim Pegler, and his close friend Bernard Benjamin, our other 'founding father', that the actuarial presence at the City University became firmly rooted during the 1970s, enabling the group to develop into one of the world's leading departments in this subject area. Jim's ideals live on at City and with the various groups of students whom he taught and inspired.