Friends and colleagues who knew Joseph E. Kist described him as “quirky and eccentric; scholarly and bullheaded.” He was also quietly generous.
Dr. Kist received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Purdue University in the 1950s. He then went on to teach at the Pennsylvania State University and finally at New Mexico State University where he retired as Emeritus Professor many years ago.
His interests were broad: music, history, literature, all areas of science were just a few.
He was proud of his work as a mathematician, both as a researcher and teacher. Possibly, however, his single most lasting source of pride came from Damarise, the daughter of his parents’ caretaker, Maria. Maria’s English language skills were limited as was her earning capacity. Even before Damarise started kindergarten, Dr. Kist quietly took on the role of her reading coach, math tutor and academic cheerleader; this continued throughout her schooling. And when it came time for Damarise to go to college, his support was both academic and financial. Friends say most people never knew about this endeavor.
Joseph Kist passed way in October 2018 at the age of 89. Among his final wishes, he selected the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he had been a member of since 1966, as the recipient of a legacy gift.
As a result of his generous bequest, AAAS will now be able to fully launch How We Respond, an ambitious new initiative that will highlight how successful climate response strategies have resulted from collaboration between community leaders and scientists and engineers, shedding light on models for action in communities across the country. With his gift and with the support of many in the AAAS community, we will make the effects of climate change more real to a range of audiences, provide messages of hope that negative outcomes can be managed or reduced, and encourage and facilitate future collaborations to help drive the development of evidence-based solutions.
As his longtime friend Patricia Johnson, who served as executor of Dr. Kist’s estate, revealed, “AAAS never ventured far from Joe’s thoughts and appreciation. While you might have been surprised to be remembered by Joe, I would have been surprised had you not been included in his gifts.”
All of us at AAAS are grateful to Dr. Kist and proud to honor his legacy through this important work.
If you would like to know more about planned giving opportunities at AAAS or if you have already provided for AAAS in your will and would like to be recognized in our 1848 Society, please contact the Office of Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships.