Cesareo Villegas, 1921-2001
Cesareo Villegas, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at Simon Fraser University passed away on July 8/2001 at 80 years of age. He is survived in Canada by his wife Nellie, four children and four grandchildren, and in Uruguay by three brothers and two sisters.
Professor Villegas received the Ing Ind degree in Engineering from the U. de la Republica in Uruguay in 1953. After 20 years in faculty positions at U. de la Republica, he came to North America as a visiting Associate Professor at the University of Rochester (1968 to 1970). He joined Simon Fraser University in 1970 as an Associate Professor and was the founding statistician. From 1979 until his retirement in 1986, he served as Full Professor.
Cesareo Villegas was an expert in the foundations of Bayesian statistics, beginning his work in the days when Bayesian methods were not so fashionable. He was one of the original handful of pioneers who participated in the now wildly popular Valencia meetings that promote the Bayesian point of view.
His publications were theoretical and included amongst others, eight papers in the Annals and three in JASA. Some of his best known work involved the development of priors satisfying certain invariance properties.
Although his published work was characterized by mathematics, and in particular algebra and probability theory, Cesareo had an interest in applications. One topic which caught his fancy for a sustained period involved the possible relationship between river flows and sunspots. Professor Villegas was a scholar; he read widely, he thought long and deeply and he wrote quality papers. He was active in his retirement and maintained an NSERC grant up until the year of his death.
Cesareo was a gentle man who lived his life with dignity. Although quiet in nature, he could become animated when engaged in almost any topic, spiritual or scientific. He was generous with his time to young investigators and when it was clear that he was unable to spend his grant in 2001, he used the balance to support graduate students at SFU. He was a role model who demonstrated how to love and how to attend consistently to one's work without being overly distracted by the politics of academia. His priorities in life were firmly established, and in increasing order of importance, these included statistics, his family and his faith.
Cesareo had a slow growing prostate cancer for a number of years. The last three months he was hospitalized and was further diagnosed with a brain tumour. He lived his last months and days pain free.
He is deeply missed.
Tim Swartz and Michael Stephens
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
Simon Fraser University