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The first thing you’d notice about Bill McCurdy was his cowboy hat (at least, that’s how I’d describe it). Get closer and you’d notice the white mustache, the friendly smile and the glasses. Under his arm would be two or three books, at least: the latest scholarship on Charles Sanders Peirce (pronounced “purse”), the American philosopher he adored, along with volumes in arcane subdisciplines of mathematics: topology, group theory, category theory, lattice theory. He’d dilate upon those subjects with enthusiasm if anyone inquired about them; I think not many did. But it was the hat that you’d notice first, as he ambled between the Eli M. Oboler Library and the liberal arts building or to College Market to get a cup of coffee.

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