|17267 JOHN HAROLD SAXON,
10 December 1923 - 17 October 1996
Died in Norman, OK
Cremated and his ashes scattered at his favorite golf course
Many words have been written about the life of John Saxon, but none can relieve the deep sense of loss felt by his family, friends, and those associated with him in his final mission of improving math education in America.
John Saxon was born in Moultrie, GA, to John Harold and Zollie McArthur Saxon. He graduated from Athens High School, Athens, Georgia, in 1941 and attended the University of Georgia. In 1943, he joined the Army Air Corps, serving as a B-17 aircraft commander during WWII. He resigned his commission in June 1945 after being appointed to the Academy. At West Point, John stayed a step ahead of the Academic and Tactical Departments while enjoying his love of golf and other activities more to his liking.
After graduation, we both were B-25 instructor pilots at Vance AFB in Enid, OK. I got to know him as a fellow instructor, golfing buddy, neighbor, and good friend, as well as a fellow classmate. John's ability to teach and obtain understanding from the slowest of students came to the fore. He insisted on trading two of his students for two of mine who were about to wash out. They graduated. He had a genuine concern for the slow learners.
Also in Enid, John met and married Mary Esther Selby in August 1950. In the spring of 1951, I saw him off to Korea (with golf bag over his shoulder) to fly B-26 "Night Intruder" combat missions. A month later, we rejoined as roommates in the same squadron. John was a conscientious pilot in carrying out his missions for which he was awarded several decorations. He also took on additional duties and with performance for which he received a spot promotion to captain. After completing 55 combat missions, we both transferred to HQ FEAF, Tokyo, Japan. There, following several discussions, John decided to pursue additional education.
While earning a B.S. in aeronautical engineering at AFIT at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, in 1953. John lost an engine on a B-25 at takeoff and crashed. Only through his skill in controlling the aircraft to a crash landing, and the bravery of a lady from a nearby farmhouse who pulled him from the wreckage, did John survive with nonfatal injuries.
In 1957, John was a student of mine at the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School. His insight into problems in the classroom and in the air was a very positive influence on the class. An MSEE from the University of Oklahoma and a teaching assignment at the Air Force Academy; where he was a popular instructor with the cadets, further prepared him for his ultimate mission. After tours at the Air Proving Ground Command, Eglin AFB, FL, and Thailand, he retired for medical reasons in 1970.
After his retirement, John taught mathematics at Rose State College in Oklahoma City. He discovered that the students were neither comprehending nor retaining what they were taught from the text books being used. At a student's suggestion, John wrote out some problems for his class. When his students were successful in learning algebra from his writings, he decided to write a college level algebra textbook.
John was then a man with a mission, dedicated and determined to turn around the decline in math education in our country. He published two texts for the junior college level and ran successful tests with several classes of students, showing remarkable improvement in test scores and student interest. John formed his own publishing company by mortgaging his home and drawing from his savings. He authored or coauthored 13 math text books in grades K-12 and one each on calculus and physics. His books and teaching techniques have been a huge success with most teachers and students and they are lavish in their praise. Students using his books have consistently tested well above those using currently established texts. As an outsider to the math community, John fought an onslaught of criticism and opposition from what he called the "mathematics education establishment." With a passionate belief in his cause, John spoke out with challenges to test his methods and results.
He was featured in Reader's Digest, Time Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, 60 Minutes, and many other publications as well as radio and television. A nationally known speaker, he travelled extensively, beating the drum for the improvement of the math skills of our youth. Currently, school districts in all 50 states and several foreign countries use his texts.
Faced with mounting health problems in his last years, John said he was "racing the clock" and was afraid he wouldn't be able to finish the job. However, his mission of improving math education continues through Saxon Publishers, Inc. with the same goals and dedication John established. For this, he will long be remembered. His dedication to his cause, professionalism, character, and fighting spirit reflect most positively on our Alma Mater and our class.
His professional success is only overshadowed by his success as a father of four: John H. Saxon III, M.D.; Selby Saxon Harrison, M.D.; Bruce C. Saxon, M.D.; and Mrs. Sarah Gay Perkins, R.Ph. He was a loving, devoted, understanding, and supportive father as attested to by their success.
John went out as he requested-with an Irish wake-held in the offices of his company following his memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church in Norman, OK. The mood was festive, with lots of food, champagne, and his family and many friends gathered around remembering the things John accomplished. His ashes were scattered onto his favorite Georgia golf course as he requested.
John, well done. Be thou at peace. You done good'
WHS- classmate and friend