Remembering Tom Tillman
02 April 2004 (online)
When I think of Tom Tillman, I think of golf. Neither of us was much of a player, but we loved to get out early in the morning on the Evanston Township course where we could hook and slice without embarrassing ourselves too greatly. Tom would pick me up in his blue Ford station wagon, steaming thermos of coffee in hand, and we would head for the links. There was a water hazard with our names on it. On more than one occasion, we had to invoke the divinity who authorized the Mulligan to assure ourselves that no penalty was warranted as we searched the murky water.
Before I left Northwestern University in 1961, Tom and I performed several interesting research projects. My favorite was a pioneering study of the relationship between thresholds for pure tones and for spondee words. It was noteworthy for the fact that the analysis of variance involved something like five main effects and countless interactions. This was in the days before widely available computerized statistics programs. All of the sums and sums of squares had to be determined on a hand calculator, then plugged into formulae to derive the various mean squares. Telling Tom that it was a character-building activity, I assigned him to carry out all the calculations. About halfway through he remarked, in that familiar Oklahoma twang, that if I wanted to strengthen what he perceived to be my only minimally adequate character, he would be happy to share the work with me.
The few years that we worked together ended more than 4 decades ago, but I remember them vividly. I will always miss Tom. He was a true friend.