Maurice Sion

Maurice Sion


October 17, 1927 - April 17, 2018


Maurice Sion passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Vancouver on April 17, 2018 at the age of 90. He was predeceased by his youngest child, Robin, and is survived by his wife, Emilie, his brother, Jacques, his children Crispin (Sandy), Sarica (Philip) and Dirk (Pascale), and his six grandchildren Hannah, Claire, Marie, Joss, Leland and Oriana.


Maurice was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia from 1960 until his retirement in 1989, specializing in the field of Measure Theory. He is best known for his Minimax Theorem, but also wrote several books on mathematics, served as the head of the Mathematics Department at UBC and was instrumental in organizing the 1974 International Congress of Mathematicians held in Vancouver. In 2012 he was selected as a member of the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society.


He was born in Skopje (now Macedonia), to Ladino-speaking Sephardic Jewish parents, Max and Sarah, and spent his early years in Salonika, Greece, Izmir, Turkey and Beirut, Lebanon, before immigrating at the age of 16 with his family to New York. He attended NYU in New York City and later obtained his PhD in Mathematics at the University of California in Berkeley. He taught at Berkeley, where he married Emilie and where two of his four children were born, before immigrating to Canada and starting his career at UBC.


Canada gave Maurice a deep connection to the outdoors. He took great pleasure camping with his family and friends on Martin Island in Pender Harbour and spending summers as part of the ranching community at Francois Lake.


Maurice was also a citizen of the world, speaking fluent Spanish, Italian, French and English. He greatly enjoyed travelling, taking several sabbatical years abroad. His retirement was spent partly in Paris and partly in Vancouver to where he moved back permanently in 2011.


Maurice will be fondly remembered for his welcoming nature, his openness to the unexpected, his appreciation of good food and his enjoyment of music, especially the opera. The door was always open to visitors and he always had a smile for them.