Cover photo for Theodore Ware Hildebrandt's Obituary
Theodore Ware Hildebrandt Profile Photo
1921 Theodore 2017

Theodore Ware Hildebrandt

November 30, 1921 — April 29, 2017

Theodore Ware Hildebrandt, age 94, died in the family home in Longmont, CO, on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Ted was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Dora Edith Ware and Theophil Henry Hildebrandt. He graduated from Cranbrook preparatory school at age 15 and received his BA in physics from the University of Michigan in 1942. After serving in the US Navy during World War II, he continued his education, completing an MA, MS and Ph.D. in mathematics. While working on his MA in mathematics, he developed input devices for the Princeton Project’s computing instrument at the Institute for Advanced Study, working with John von Neumann and Herman Goldstine. This computer was the first to use binary instead of decimal representation of numbers.

Ted was called up to serve in the Korean War in 1951 and was assigned to the US Naval Computing Machine Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1954, he moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to work on his PhD dissertation at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.  After his studies, Ted joined the faculty of Ohio State University in Columbus as a professor in the mathematics department in 1957. While there, he developed the first computer science curriculum within the OSU math department. Ted served briefly as the director of the computing center and professor of computer science at Kansas State University, and then moved to Boulder, CO, to head the computing facility at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) from 1969 to 1974. After serving for 17 years as professor of mathematics and director of the Academic Computer Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he retired in 1993. In retirement, Ted volunteered at Senior Net, teaching older adults how to use computers, and was a faithful election judge for many years.

Ted married Ruth Eleanor Stein in 1953. He and Ruth, an accomplished pianist, had four children. Ruth died in 1961. Ted married Mary Kathryn Babcock, a teacher of physical education and dance, in 1962, and they had a son. Ted was preceded in death by his wife, Mary K., and his sister, Lisbeth Harbeck. He is survived by his brothers Paul Robert Hildebrandt and H. Mark Hildebrandt, his children, Sarah H. Kiefhaber (Louis Warshawsky), Paul Richard Hildebrandt (Christina), Thomas H. Hildebrandt (Adair Dingle), M. Lise Hildebrandt and Peter W. Hildebrandt (Nanette Littlestone), and nine grandchildren.

Ted was a pioneer in the area of computer science, a professor and teacher to the core.  He reveled in words and languages, loved music (he sang in church choirs from age 10 to age 90) and above all, delighted in his large family.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 20th, at 10:30 am at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street, Boulder, 80302. Reception to follow.
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