HANCOCK, Mich. / HOUGHTON, Mich.—John Wilson Hilgers died on Feb. 5, 2019 in Houghton, Mich., after a brief illness with pancreatic cancer. He was born in Madison, Wis. on Feb. 27,1945, to John Martin Hilgers and Liane Faust Hilgers. He graduated from Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. in 1963. He received three degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the last being a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1973. He spent one year in graduate school as a student and a teacher at Cornell University.
From 1974 to 2007, he was an associate professor in the Mathematics Department at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich.. He also earned 22 graduate level credits in Electrical Engineering. While teaching, he wrote research papers in applied mathematics and gave talks at professional math conferences, refereed articles for math journals, including translating 32 papers written in Russian. In 1992, he and a friend, William Reynolds, founded Signature Research, which grew to have as many as 55 employees with contracts from top research laboratories in the U. S. Department of Defense. They sold the company in 2015.
John volunteered with Copper Country Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life. His hobbies included reading, astrophysics, crossword puzzles and movies. He participated in running, biking and triathlons into his 60s. He was a big fan of Wisconsin Badgers football, Michigan Tech athletics and the MTU Pep Band. He followed the Green Bay Packers for six decades.
John is survived by his wife, Christy Stevens Hilgers, whom he married in 1977. Other survivors are his brother, Thomas A. (Paula) Hilgers and their daughter, Melinda Hilgers, of Salem, Ore., and an aunt, Caryl Faust Bremer of Middleton, Wis. He also had many cousins. Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his grandparents, John E. and Magdalena DuFrenne Hilgers and Charles J. and Ellen Kerl Faust, as well as numerous aunts and uncles.
There will be a celebration of John’s life at a later date.