Appel, Kenneth (1932-2013) | University of Illinois Archives
Kenneth Appel was born on October 8th, 1932, in Brooklyn, New York. In 1953, he earned his Bachelor's degree in mathematics from Queens College. After working as an actuary and serving two years in the army, he earned a Ph.D. in math from the University of Michigan in 1959. During graduate school, he programmed computers for the Douglas Aircraft during his summers. He met his wife Carole Appel in Ann Arbor, and they were married in 1959. They have three children together.
After graduating Kenneth Appel went to work for the Institute for Defense Analyses in Princeton, N.J. where he conducted research in cryptography and number theory for the federal government. In 1961, he joined the University of Illinois as a professor. Here, apart from his focus in group theory, Dr. Appel proved the Four Color Theorem, alongside Wolfgang Haken in 1976. In 1993, he left the University of Illinois to become the chairman of the Mathematics Department at the University of New Hampshire, retiring in 2003.
Aside from his work in mathematics, Dr. Appel invested much of his time into politics. He served a term on the Urbana City Council and served on the Dover School Board. For a while, he was also the treasurer of the Strafford County Democratic Party. He passed away on April 19th, 2013.