Derek Goldrei obituary

My father, Derek Goldrei, who has died unexpectedly on his 74th birthday, worked as a mathematician for the Open University and various Oxford University colleges for his entire career.

Derek was born in Hampstead, north London, to Irena (nee Satori) and Laurence Goldrei. Irena had fled Vienna aged 18 in 1938 after the Anschluss, finding refuge in London at the invitation of her future mother-in-law, Eva Goldrei. His father would later take over the family business Charles Goldrei, Foucard and Son, a bakery ingredients company.

After St Paul’s school, Derek went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where, in 1969, he was one of the first graduates in the new mathematics and philosophy degree. During the student revolts of 1968, he was an enthusiastic and moderating influence, involved in multiple sit-ins.

Remaining in Oxford to study for a doctorate in mathematical logic, he became an “academic grandson” of the computer and AI theorist Alan Turing (Derek’s supervisor, Robin Gandy, had been Turing’s doctoral student).

In 1972 he took up a position at the newly created Open University, the values of which accorded well with his belief that everyone has a right to continuing education regardless of their background or age. In addition to giving tuition and writing courses, he took on many leadership roles in the mathematics and statistics department and at university level.

A generous and supportive colleague, Derek encouraged others to recognise their potential. In 2005 I collaborated with him in designing the cover for his book Propositional and Predicate Calculus: A Model of Argument. This and his 1996 book are sure to be on the reading lists of university logic courses for generations to come.

Along with Bob Coates, he presented OU mathematics programmes on BBC radio (1978-96). Modelling themselves on the Two Ronnies, they generated about 700 broadcasts over the 19-year life of the course. These were initially recorded in the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace, where they would finalise the script for a programme in the morning, have a couple of pints in the BBC Club and record in the afternoon – until one of their producers decided it might be wise to record before lunch.

Throughout his career he was also a part-time tutor at several Oxford colleges including Lady Margaret Hall, Somerville, St Hugh’s and, from 2003, Mansfield, where he was giving revision tutorials only two months before he died. Despite officially retiring from the OU and Mansfield College in 2015, he had quickly returned to part-time tutoring roles at both places.

He met his first wife, Jennie, in the early 1970s, and they married in 1978. They had two children, and Jennie (encouraged by Derek) went on to gain an OU degree in biological sciences. She died unexpectedly in 2006.

In 2011, Derek married Lindsey Court, an OU colleague. Together they enjoyed cryptic crosswords, travelling and cooking. Much joy was brought into their lives when their granddaughter, Nancy, was born in 2020.

He is survived by Lindsey, his children, Judith and me, Nancy and his sister Diane.