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The University of Southampton
Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute

Norman R. Draper

Published: 16 November 2022

Colleagues in S3RI are very sad to hear of the death of Norman Draper who was a visiting professor in the Department of Mathematics for many years. He passed away peacefully on June 19th at the age of 91, with his family around him, in Madison, Wisconsin. He was a Distinguished Professor of Statistics at the University of Wisconsin and was an outstanding pioneer in regression analysis and design of experiments. Many of us have used his books on regression analysis (Applied Regression Analysis with Harry Smith) and response surface methods (Response Surfaces, Mixtures and Ridge Analysis with George Box) in our teaching and research, but his close connections with Southampton city and the University are perhaps less well known.

Norman was born on March 20, 1931in Southampton and grew up there during World War ll. His parents ran a small tobacco and sweet shop in Shirley where the family also lived.  He attended Taunton's School in Highfield, which is now part of the Avenue Campus, and went on to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge where he obtained his BA in 1954.  In 1958 he obtained a PhD at the University of North Carolina and, after three years at ICI in the UK, he returned to the US to take up his position at the University of Wisconsin.  Further details of his extensive research contributions during his very productive 40 year career at Wisconsin are available in Dennis Lin’s tribute to Norman .

Norman was a regular visitor to Southampton for many years, primarily to visit his mother who continued to live in the Southampton area and in more recent times had moved to a bungalow in Eastleigh. He would come to Southampton for two weeks in the summer to check on her health and wellbeing as she lived alone very independently and it seemed quite natural that, during his stays, he should spend some time as a visitor to the Department of Mathematics. This was particularly appropriate as several of us had research interests in modelling and design of experiments.

Over the years, he carried out joint research with several members of the Statistics Group.  Initially, he worked with Nye John, then with Sue Lewis, Angela Dean and me and, finally, he worked with me on various aspects of mixture designs.  I recall that he was meticulous in keeping track of our thoughts and deliberations each day. He numbered the pages of the notes we produced however incomprehensible they might be. This ordered daily record made it so much easier to develop and extend our thoughts on subsequent days and resulted in us having the basis of a paper after each of his visits. This collaboration resulted in fourteen joint papers published in a variety of journals and our paper on ‘D-optimal mixture component-amount designs for quadratic and cubic models’ was awarded the prize for the best paper in the Journal of Applied Statistics in 2008.

Earlier this year his daughter, Mary, got in touch.  She explained that for the past three years he had been cared for at All Saints Memory Care in Madison and had been treated with great compassion and humour but that his health was failing rapidly.  Norman is survived by Nan, his devoted companion of more than 35 years, his sister in Germany, his daughter Mary and grandchildren Elizabeth, Brian and Catherine in the US.  A memorial service was held in Madison on 11th October at which tributes from family, friends and colleagues were presented.  Mary invited me to send a contribution recalling his visits to the University of Southampton, which was read at the service by her daughter Catherine.

Phil Prescott, Emeritus Professor of Statistics

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