George Casella

Today I learned that my dear friend George Casella has passed away.

George is well known for many things: his influential textbooks, his
research on decision theory, his research on MCMC, his good
statistical sense, his service work, his crystal clear lectures, … I
could go on and on. But there was something else about George that
made him very special. It’s very hard to put into words but, put
simply, he was probably the most positive, optimistic person I have
ever known.

I first met George about 24 years. He was visiting Purdue at the time
and I went there to give a talk. About five minutes after I met him, I
felt like I had known him for years. Shortly after that, he invited me
to a workshop he had organized at Cornell. To this day, those of us
who attended the workshop still refer to it as “Camp Casella.” We
did work. We gave talks. We listened to talks. We drank. We ate. We
had fun and we learned a lot. I remember one morning he knocked on my
door very early in the morning. I was surely hung over. But George
insisted we go for a five mile run. It was a grueling run involving
some of Ithaca’s steep hills. I was destroyed. George barely seemed
winded.

I saw George last Fall when I visited the University of Florida. He had
just finished a round of chemotherapy. But that did not stop coming
in to work. And he was, as always, brimming with enthusiasm. When he
told me the many things he was doing (including supervising and large
number of students) I felt like a loafer. In January, he visited us in
Pittsburgh (with his wonderful daughter Sarah) and we had a great
time. Talking about statistics while eating, drinking wine, and
drinking scotch. It doesn’t get better than that.

I have known George since 1988. It is hard to imagine the field of
statistics without him. We will miss you my friend.

My deepest sympathies to Anne, Sarah and Benjamin.

(Note: more about George’s inestimable influence at Christian’s blog. )

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4 Comments

  1. Posted June 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just a few lines to share my grief for the loss of George Casella, a statistician of incredible value and a dear dear friend. I’ll miss him at every meeting I will go to, I’ll miss him every time we drink scotch with friends or we talk shop with colleagues. He was a wonderful person and it does not seem real that he will not be with us to share a joke or to start something new with his never ending optimistic enthusiasm.

  2. Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I never got a chance to meet George Casella, but he had an effect on a ton of graduate students that never met him. I had a lot of trouble learning MCMC in a class. Out of frustration, I ended up dropping the class and buying George’s book and reading it cover to cover. I learned so much from his writing and went on to pass our qual, part of which was MCMC. I only passed because of how well written his book was and how much it taught me. I’ve always recommended that orange book to others and it has become my Bible of MCMC. I wish I could have met him. He seemed like such an interesting person.

  3. Rob Strawderman
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    Wonderful sentiment – George was an indomitable force in statistics and a terrific person who will be missed on many levels. He had a major influence on my early career development and I will miss him as both as a valued friend and mentor.

  4. Posted June 25, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’m sorry to hear this new. I used his (and Berger) statistical inference book in grad. school (Oregon State University, 2001-2003) and it was a great resource that made a lot of things clear for me.

One Trackback

  1. [...] this quotation from Larry Wasserman’s blog: Talking about statistics while eating, drinking wine, and drinking scotch. It doesn’t get better [...]

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