Dr. Phillip Lee Zenor

December 16, 1940 ~ March 21, 2020 (age 79)


Phillip Lee Zenor, 79, of Auburn passed away at his home surrounded by family after battling cancer.

He was born December 16, 1940 in Houston, Texas to Alpha Whisenant Zenor and Hughes M. Zenor. Dr. Zenor was a retired professor of mathematics at Auburn University, where he began teaching in 1968 after receiving his doctorate at the University of Houston. He began his career as an artist before turning to academics.

He and his longtime close friend Mike Reed collaborated to solve a problem in topology that enabled him to travel and give talks around the world. He also co-wrote a book, “Calculus With Early Vectors.”

A high school wrestler, Phillip also is a former marathoner who ran a final one to celebrate his 65th birthday.

He is survived by wife Susan Harkness, daughter Jessica, sons Phillip Lee Jr. and John Zenor and stepdaughters Martha Whalen, Tish Allen and stepson James Whalen, along with 10 grandchildren. Phillip’s longtime wife, Patricia Zenor, passed away in May 2017.

He loved to travel. He and Pat spent half the year in Naples, Florida, during their retirement and often traveled in their RV. Phillip and Susan traveled and celebrated life after his diagnosis with grade 4 Glioblastoma with a cruise and trip through Europe.

Phillip remained cheerful and upbeat throughout his battle with cancer, frequently telling jokes. When people asked how he was doing, he often responded: “Other than the brain cancer and bad hip, I’m great. You?”

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