We are sad to report the passing of former IJA President Ronald Graham (1935 – 2020) on July 6th, 2020. Ron was a well-known figure in the juggling world and nothing less than a major celebrity in the world of mathematics. To learn about his huge contributions to mathematics, you can read the obituary published by the American Mathematical Society by clicking here.
Instead of repeating all of his many and important math accomplishments, I instead want to focus on some of his contributions to the juggling world. Ron learned to juggle at age 15 and was involved with the art for the rest of his life. He tried to practice juggling at least a little every day and could juggle six balls well.
Ron Graham with some digitally added balls
It should come as little surprise that Graham was involved in the study of siteswap theory. He co-authored three papers / articles about siteswaps. The most famous and important of these was Juggling Drops and Descents, published in 1994, which you can read by clicking here.
Ron Graham was elected as the President of the IJA in 1972 and was a life member. His most famous juggling student was Steve Mills. Graham even helped to inspire Mills to create Mills Mess by showing him some related patterns.
You can see Ron juggle during a math lecture by clicking here and watching the second half of the video.
You can listen to a two part podcast featuring Ron talking about the connection of juggling and math by clicking here.
Below is a video from 1980 showing Ron juggling and talking about the similarities between math and juggling.
Besides math and juggling, Ron was also a former professional trampoline performer, an avid magician, and enjoyed table tennis, boomerang throwing, and sky diving. He leaves behind his wife, Fan Chung. and four children. Our condolences go out to them as well as his extended family, friends, and colleagues.