August 23, 2017

Obituaries 8/23/17

Andrew M. Sheldon

Andrew M. Sheldon, a loving husband, proud father, and energetic grandfather, passed away on June 23, 2017 at his home in Old Town Alexandria, Va., surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Linda; his daughter Casey Seidenberg, her husband, Nick, and their children, Henry, Teddy, and Pippa; and his son, Christopher Sheldon, his wife, Eileen, and their children, Buchanan and Talbot. He is loved and missed by so many.

Andy had a peaceful and patient nature, a desire to constantly learn and grow, and a genuine love for family. He was deeply moved and inspired by the golden mean — symmetry, proportion, and harmony — and these principles shaped both his creative work and his life.

Born in 1944 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Andy grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. and Princeton, where he ultimately met his wife, Linda, and raised his family with much joy. He began his own architecture business, Andrew M. Sheldon Architect, in 1975, and was passionate about designing beautiful spaces for his clients, including houses from Mexico to Nantucket and many places in between. He also founded Sheldon Designs in 1975, providing economical, easy-to-build blueprints for small houses, farmhouses, and cabins, becoming an early contributor to the “tiny house” trend.

Andy received his bachelor of arts and bachelor of architecture degrees from Rice University in 1966 and 1967, respectively, and also studied architecture at Pratt University. Andy served in the Army from 1968 to 1970, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. He worked for both small and large architecture firms in Princeton before starting his own firm.

Andy received the Historical Society of Princeton’s Historic Preservation Award in both 2003 and 2004, and his architecture has been featured in many publications including The Washington Post. Andy also served on the Princeton YMCA Board of Directors from 1986 to 1994, and on the Princeton Site Plan Review Advisory Board from 1990 to 1995.

Andy enjoyed being near the water, taking his grandchildren to sports practices and out for burgers, playing tennis, building fly rods, and writing.

There will be a service to celebrate Andy’s life in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, September 16, 2017 at The Little Sanctuary, St. Albans School, 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The River School Center for Innovation, an initiative to rethink how language and literacy is taught to kids with hearing loss. Select “Support River School” at and indicate in memory of Andrew Sheldon, or text “Andrew Sheldon” to 41444.


Susan E. Thompson

Rev. Susan E. Thompson, 76, of Princeton, New Jersey passed away Wednesday, August 16, 2017. Born in Wilmington, Ohio, she spent most of her childhood at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Susan enjoyed two enriching careers, first as a Registered Nurse from 1967 to 1979, she then finished her Master’s of Divinity at Princeton and was first ordained in 1985. Susan served two chaplaincies. The first was at Abingdon Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia and the other was at Samaritan Hospice in New Jersey. She served at the churches of Hobart and South Kortright in rural New York, Larison’s Corner in Ringoes, New Jersey, and lastly at Scotchtown Presbyterian Church in Scotchtown, New York.

Daughter of the late Delbert and Zella Nicholas, wife of the late Thomas Whaley, and Rev. Ralph Thompson. She is survived by her daughters Melissa (Glenn) Hawthorne and Stephaney (Robert) Weber; her step-children James (Melanie) Thompson and Joy Thompson; and her five grandchildren Ashley Reid, Kate Weber, Kelly Weber, Mackenzie Thompson, and Morgan Thompson; her loving brother, James (Sharon) Nicholas and their three boys Shaun, Nathaniel, and Brian (Sarah); and their grandchildren Levi and Wyatt.

There will be a memorial service on Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 10 a.m., in the Chapel at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton with a light reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Assistance Program for the Presbyterian Church C/O The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (USA), 2000 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103,

Thanks be to God for all good gifts. Amen.


Leonard Baum

Leonard (Lenny, fondly known to many as Opa) Baum died unexpectedly at the age of 86 on August 14, 2017 at his home in Princeton.

Lenny was born on Aug 23, 1931 in Brooklyn, N.Y. to parents Sophia Fuderman and Morris Baum (who were themselves first cousins). He married his high school sweetheart Julia Lieberman in 1953, the year he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude in mathematics, from Harvard University. He received a PhD in mathematics from Harvard in 1958. He worked for a couple of years at the University of Chicago before moving to Princeton to work at the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) — a Defense Department think tank which specialized in cryptography. Lenny’s affiliation with the IDA in Princeton spanned 1959 through 1978. He wrote over 100 internal papers there and is responsible for what has become the motto of the IDA: “No idea is bad. A bad idea is good. A good idea is terrific.” To his coworkers, he was a “renaissance man” who was exceptional at all aspects of problem solving, was dogged — never giving up until he solved a problem, and was also a patient mentor and teacher whose influence lives on. Despite spending the bulk of his research career in a classified environment, Lenny published 11 refereed articles which have received a combined 9,000 citations and continue to be cited to this day.

Lenny’s public scientific legacy includes the Baum-Welch algorithm and co-authorship of the first proof, published in 1967, of its mathematical underpinnings. This algorithm directly enabled the first effective speech recognition systems. Today, 50 years later, this work remains at the center of these systems — while its mathematical and algorithmic descendants and other relatives, have impacted many fields from genomics to weather prediction to finance. After leaving the IDA, Lenny teamed up with Jim Simons to apply his mathematical modeling to the financial markets. He retired early, legally blind, seeing with only his rods, having lost all his cones to a dystrophy, but that didn’t stop him from travelling the world over, visiting many exotic places. He continued to trade for himself very successfully, often taking very contrarian positions. An avid Go player, deep lover of science, and seeker of truth, he continued working on math literally up until his death, spending the night before he died reading new math papers on prime numbers. Like his father before him, he was a great walker, walking four miles a day up until his last few months. He was a loving husband, father, and devoted grandfather. The grandchildren loved his “Opa Stories.” Lenny was generous of spirit, deeply ethical, and always kind. In addition to his devotion to family, Lenny, and his late wife Julia, made his friends feel like family. He will be deeply missed by the many who were touched by his life, including his companion of the last decade, Maxine Lampert, with whom he shared many adventures.

Lenny is survived by his two children — Eric Burton Baum currently living in Princeton (spouse Chaitra Keshav Baum), and Stefi Alison Baum currently living in Winnipeg, Manitoba (spouse Christopher O’Dea). Lenny is also survived by eight grandchildren: Eric’s children (Nathan, Noah, Julia, and Asha), and Stefi’s children (Connor, Kieran, Brennan, and Annelies). He is predeceased by the love of his life, Julia Lieberman (Feb 22, 1999).

The funeral was August 15, 2017 graveside at noon at the Princeton cemetery, followed by Shiva.