Bill Hayt Eulogy

In memory of
William (Bill) Hart Hayt, Jr.
July 1, 1920 - October 13, 1999

presented by
LeRoy Silva
October 26, 1999

William (Bill) Hart Hayt, Jr., died Wednesday, October 13, 1999, after a long illness. He was born July 1, 1920 in Wilmette, IL. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Electrical Engineering from Purdue and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He is survived by his wife, Marly, a daughter Peggy Hayt Wade, and a son David Hayt. Another son, Tommy Hayt, was killed in an automobile accident in 1971. He served on several boards and committees. He retired from Purdue in 1986 as Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering.

I first met Bill a little over 50 years ago. He belonged to Beta Theta Pi fraternity, as did my older brother, and this was the thread that introduced us. Later I joined that same fraternity. He was the faculty advisor to the fraternity during my tenure there. He was a young Assistant Professor at Purdue as I was beginning my undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering. He was commuting to Champaign-Urbana to complete his Ph.D. degree while he was still teaching full-time at Purdue. I had the good fortune to have him as an instructor in a senior course in communication theory. It was then that I first realized that he was a Master Teacher.

Bill was truly an educational pioneer. He developed televised course materials when it was a revolutionary concept. His early work laid the foundation for the Distant Learning program that is an important part of Purdue's outreach mission today. He was responsible for the introduction of mathematically sophisticated electromagnetic field theory into the undergraduate curriculum. He was Head of the School of Electrical Engineering at Purdue when I completed my Ph.D. studies and he convinced me to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor. I will be forever grateful for that benevolent coercion.

Bill is known around the world for his seminal textbooks on electrical circuit theory electronics, and electromagnetism (see list). He tirelessly updated these books and they were continuously adopted in universities around the world. His books, and his lectures, were distinguished by their clarity and subtle humorous asides. He had the knack of breaking down a forbidding, indigestible subject into bite-sized pieces that could be assimilated by the students. I recall that Bill's wife once was showing some guests a new addition that they had put on their home. She referred to that addition as the "McGraw-Hill Wing." When I was preparing for my Ph.D. exams, Bill's text entitled Engineering Electromagnetics was one of my key references.

Every chapter of Bill's books had several illustrative drill problems cleverly concocted to illustrate the points that the reader had just encountered. The end of the chapter had problems of various levels of difficulty that would educate the average student and challenge the top students. He always included a problem or two for the connoisseur.

Bill won about every teaching award that is available at Purdue. He was one of the professors from the Schools of Engineering that was invited to teach calculus as a guest professor in the Department of Mathematics at Purdue. I was honored to have him nominate me for a similar stint in the Math Department as well.

As you can see, my life intersected frequently with Bill's and I am acutely aware of the favorable impact he had on me as well as literally thousands of others. He will be sorely missed. Bill, you are with our Lord now--ultimately we will all be together. Goodbye.

LeRoy F. Silva
October 26, 1999

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