John Saxon was born in Georgia in 1923 and graduated from high school in Athens, Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia prior to enlisting in the Army. In 1943, after seeing active duty in the Army Air Corps, he was appointed to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from West Point in 1949 with a bachelor's degree in Engineering. He was stationed at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, and began his teaching career as a flight instructor.
During the Korean war, Saxon flew 55 combat missions in a B-26 Night Intruder. He flew five years as a test pilot for the Air Force. In 1961 he received his master's degree in electrical engineering and transferred to the Air Force Academy in Colorado, where for five years he taught electrical engineering. He was assigned to Task Force ALPHA in Vietnam and again flew missions before his retirement in 1970 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
At the time of his retirement, Saxon was living in Norman, Oklahoma. He began teaching algebra classes at Oscar Rose State College in Oklahoma City, where he initiated groundwork for Saxon Publishers. From 1980, Saxon authored or co-authored nine of the kindergarten-through-high-school series textbooks.
After his company was flourishing with mathematics programs for all grade levels, John authored the last of his series of texts, a physics book, in 1993. He then focused his efforts on speaking engagements and guest slots on radio and TV. With his penchant for attacking what he termed "so-called math experts," he was quickly dubbed a "maverick" and "math's angry man."
So great was his desire to turn around math education that John wrote and placed numerous ads, at his own expense, to alert schools and parents to what he called "The Upcoming Disaster in Math and Science Education." He was known for his outspoken narratives and for pointing a finger at those he felt were responsible for falling math scores among American students. John Saxon passed away on October 17, 1996.