Just a couple of weeks later, school let out for the summer, and our algebra class disbanded. Dr. Wiggins continued to stay in contact and even made plans to fold us into some other projects he had going. Although he extended another crazy and magnanimous invitation for East Tipp to join him for a bit in New Jersey, schedules never really allowed that a chance to happen.
Dr. Wiggins passed away unexpectedly in 2015.
Like many others around the country and around the world, we paused in respect and in gratitude for the man who had given us so much of himself and his genius.
We learned a lot about mathematics through Dr. Wiggins, but I think we learned even more about generosity. There were few people in the world who had less time to give than Dr. Wiggins ... but over and over again, he gave it. The man who must have always been headed to the next conference in the next state or the next country continually found a way to make it seem like his shoulder was hunkered down right next to ours on the path to the newest breakthrough. We realized that there were audiences that were much bigger and more worthy of his attention, but you certainly wouldn't know that by the way he treated us.
And the use of the word 'treated' in the previous sentence is absolutely appropriate ... because he did.
About six weeks after sending our original email, we received a form letter from the head office of the publisher. In a few sentences, the letter matter-of-factly revealed the original text for 42b, thanked us for our feedback, and assured us that the text had been corrected for subsequent editions. It was extremely polite and answered the question that we had asked; but when I read it to my class, we all took a moment and realized how lucky we had been to have had a different adventure. What others might have seen in that original letter as a commonplace triviality was instead artfully polished into a jewel by Dr. Wiggins for my students and me to enjoy for a long, long time.
In a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, James Dobson said, No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child. That's an incredibly powerful idea to read ... but an even more powerful idea to see demonstrated.
Thanks, Dr. Wiggins.