Walter Woodward Horner, Biographical sketch


Walter W. Horner (Uniontown, USA, 1894 - Pittsburgh, USA, 1988)

Walter Woodward Horner was born March 7, 1894, on a farm outside Uniontown in Western Pennsylvania. Woodward was his mother's maiden name.

He went to a one-room school near East Millsboro, Pennsylvania. Because he was an outstanding student, he was commissioned in 1914 to teach in the same rural school after graduating from High School East Bethlehem at Millsboro. In 1917, after his Normal Certificate granted at State Normal School, California, Pennsylvania, he became Teaching Principal in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.

During World War I, some rare months of his life outside Pennsylvania: he went to Toul, Lorraine, France, where he taught at a school for officers, Second Army Headquarters, in 1918-1919.

He obtained in 1924 his bachelor's degree at Waynesburg College. He also received a Master's degree in School Administration from Columbia University.

At Donora High School, Pennsylvania, he was a teacher of mathematics from 1925 to 1930, then Principal from 1930 to 1936. But he didn't like being a Principal. When he wanted to return to teach math at Donora and quit administration, the math job was filled; so he took a job teaching math at Latimore Junior High in Pittsburgh until 1952. His son John asked him one day why he liked teaching at the junior high level, and he said that's the level where most kids get turned off or turned on to math and he wanted to make sure they got turned on. And his favorite motto was: "He who dares teach never ceases to learn".

He was married, with three children. His wife Mary, whom he met at California Teacher's College, also taught in elementary school at Donora and Pittsburgh.

Walter Horner finished out his math-teaching career at South Hill High School in 1959. He lived in Bellevue, a suburb of Pittsburgh, and he commuted to work. He spent most of his retirement days building magic squares.

He created the first additive-multiplicative magic squares with two papers published in Scripta Mathematica, in 1952 (9x9 square) and 1955 (8x8 square). His squares were republished in Mathematical Recreations by Madachy, and in Latin Squares and their Applications by Dénes and Keedwell. Today, a lot of other add-mult magic squares are known, but strangely we do not know any smaller add-mult magic squares: are 5x5, 6x6, 7x7 possible? They are our enigmas #6, #6a, #6b.

His last published paper seems to have been "Fibonacci and Apollonius" in The Fibonacci Quarterly (vol 11, n. 5, p 541-542) of December 1973.

Walter Horner died in an old folk's home in Pittsburgh on Sept. 30, 1988, at the age of 94, of natural causes.

This biography of Walter W. Horner has not been published before. Many many thanks to his son John Robert Horner!

Christian Boyer.


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