John Alden Thorpe

PENSACOLA, Fla. – John Alden Thorpe, 84, passed away peacefully at his home under hospice care on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 after a short illness, surrounded by loved ones.

John married his cherished wife, Marilyn Alice Austin of Sabattus on June 7, 1959. John and Marilyn were lifelong partners of over 61 years and the best of friends.

John was born on Feb. 29, 1936 to Clyde Francis and Thelma (Littlefield) Thorpe of Auburn. After John graduated from Edward Little High School in 1954, he completed his B.S. degree, mathematics at MIT in 1958. He received his doctorate of mathematics at Columbia University in 1963.

After graduation, John was a C.L.E Moore instructor at MIT, 1963-1965; assistant professor Haverford College, 1965-1968; associate professor SUNY at Stony Brook, 1968-1977; professor 1977-1984; program director National Science Foundation, Washington, 1984-1986; deputy division director 1986-1987; vice provost undergraduate education, dean undergraduate college SUNY at Buffalo, 1987-1993; Provost Queens College/CUNY, 1993-1998; executive director National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Reston, Va., 1998-2001.

In 1975, John took a six-month sabbatical at the University of Oxford, England, bringing with him, Marilyn and his sons, Kendall and Steven.

John was the author of four books on elemental topology and geometry, differential geometry, and linear algebra. He was passionate about math and science.

Hobbies and interests included travel, sailing, photography, adult education, the arts (opera, philharmonic, and military bands), and professional tennis. John gave to many worthy charitable organizations, always with the thought of advancing the arts and helping those in need. John also treasured time with his growing family.

After retirement in 2001, John and Marilyn lived in Norfolk, Va., Hendersonville, N.C., Saco, and Pensacola, Fla.

In addition to his wife, Marilyn, John’s immediate family consists of siblings, Esther Alice Thorpe Tucker of West Poland, and Robert Lewis Thorpe (deceased) and his widow, Catherine DeCoster Thorpe, of Auburn; children, Kendall Richard Thorpe and his wife Suzanne A. (Tague) Thorpe, of Indianapolis, and Steven Russell Thorpe and his partner of Durham, N.C.; grandchildren, Amanda and Ryan; great-grandchildren, Madison and Riley; and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized at this time. Memories can be left at the online tribute section at

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