Brooklyn teacher who founded Math Olympiads dies at 88


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – George Lenchner, who began a math teaching career in Brooklyn and founded the Math Olympiads tournaments for schoolchildren, has died at age 88, family members said Sunday.

Lenchner, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about two years ago, died April 23 after falling and hitting his head at his home in San Francisco, said his son Eric Lenchner.

Lenchner started the Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools in 1979, and the nonprofit educational program has grown to include pupils from across the United States and about 30 foreign countries, according to the group’s Web site.

About 150,000 pupils worldwide competed last year in the Olympiads, a series of competitions pitting pupils in the fourth to eighth grades from different schools against each other.

Lenchner was born on Dec. 16, 1917, in Hartford, Conn., and played varsity lacrosse at City College of New York before serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He earned a Purple Heart after being shot in the back during the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day, family members said.

Upon returning to civilian life, Lenchner, a classically trained pianist, earned a master’s degree in music from New York University and began his math teaching career in 1950 at a Brooklyn high school.

He and his wife moved to San Francisco in 2003 to be closer to his two grown children.