Mathematics educators all over the state and world have a profound impact on their students. It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of one of the greats in mathematics education. Dr. William Lacefield, Professor at Mercer University Tift College of Education, exemplified the quintessential mathematics educator. Dr. Lacefield, “Billy” to many friends and family, died suddenly from a heart attack on Monday morning, March 23 at his home.
Dr. Allison Gilmore, retired Associate Dean of Mercer Tift College of Education said, “There is no measuring the effect he has had on students in GA [and across the nation and world] because of the effect he had on their teachers over the decades.” Billy was a “gentle genius,” both academically and emotionally. Qualifying for Mensa, a high IQ society for people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on an approved intelligence test, Dr. Gilmore said his emotional intelligence was equally as high as his academic intelligence. He contributed to many pre-service teachers changing their feeling of efficacy in mathematics. His former students’ faces brightened when talking about the effect he had on their attitudes toward mathematics. Busy as a mathematics educator, he still made time to volunteer weekly at a local elementary school.
Dr. Lacefield regularly presented at the annual Georgia Mathematics Conference and included his students for many of the presentations. He encouraged others who had not presented either at the state conference or a national conference to present or co-present with him. In addition, he presented regularly at mathematics conferences in the United Kingdom and had a wide circle of mathematics education colleagues there who value and respect him. Dr. Lacefield began serving a two-year term as Secretary of GCTM on November 1, 2019. The death of Dr. Lacefield is a tremendous loss to his many friends, family, and the mathematics education community.