John died peacefully at Kingston General Hospital. He is survived by his wife of 63 years Mary Alice (nee Hunter), daughters Christine (Scott), Jocelyn (Brad), and Alexandra (Mike), grandchildren Sam, Nick, Matilda, Sofie, and Jack, and brother Sidney (
Linda) and sister Catherine. He was predeceased by his brother Leslie.
John was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. He received a degree in Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University and emigrated to Canada a day later. He worked for a year in Montreal as a chemist, then came to Toronto. After acquiring an MSc. and
PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto in 1959, he married Mary Alice and worked at the Gulf Oil Research Institute in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1962, he returned to Canada to the Department of Chemical Engineering at Queen's University where
he spent his entire career apart from three memorable sabbaticals at the University of Cambridge.
We have a lifetime of happy memories - of his wit and intelligence which enlivened many a dinner party, of his love of chess, photography, his cats - and Nanaimo bars. There was the fun and strife of co-authoring three historical novels for children with
Mary Alice. We recall his tranquillity at the cottage nestled in the woods on an island on the Rideau as well as his unwavering dedication to his family, colleagues, and students.
We would like to thank Dr. Willms and Dr. Mohr for their care over many years, and the palliative care team at KGH which eased his final days. We are grateful to the personal support workers of the VON, particularly Jackie, Anita and Lisa. Thanks also to
Joe, Gloria and Marie Gionet for their dedication to the garden, the house, and its inhabitants. Cremation has taken place. A family celebration will be held this summer at the island.
One condolence note:
In second year, I got a mark of 25% on his Thermodynamics mid-term and a note to come to see him in his office. Fearing the worst about remaining in Chem Eng, I met with him, and came away with advice that has served me for decades, far longer than
Thermodynamics. He told me "Never make a decision that closes more doors than it opens". Sincerest condolences on your loss, he was a mentor to many.
What I posted in 2011:
Not to be confused with the older Scottish soccer player.
(With wife, Mary Alice Downie) Honor Bound, illustrated by Joan
Huffman, Oxford University Press, 1971.
("Members of a Loyalist family become separated when they flee
Philadelphia for Canada following the Revolutionary War.")
(Contributor with M. A. Downie) Inside Outside, Holt, 1978.
(Contributor with M. A. Downie) Measure Me Sky, Ginn & Co., 1979.
Mary Ann: An Elegy, Falling Wall, 1981.
(With M. A. Downie) Alison's Ghosts, illustrated by Paul McCusker,
Thomas Nelson, 1984.
("The oddly carved pipe bowl takes 11-year-old Allison back in time
into the wigwam of a Micmac shaman! She quickly returns to the
present, but it takes her all summer to unravel the pipe's haunting
history." Timeslip historical fiction set in Nova Scotia.")
Stones and Cones Country Crafts for Kids, Scholastic Book Service,
(Contributor with M. A. Downie) Thread the Needle, Holt, 1987.
(Co-author) Danger in Disguise, Roussan, 2000.
("Scottish born, raised secretly in Normandy. Jamie and his father
have been on the run all his life. Then, on his fourteenth birthday,
they are forced by his father's enememies to flee once again. Jamie
learns why in a dramatic series of events. Press-ganged to serve in
the British navy, Jamie arrives in the port of Quebec just as General
Wolfe's siege of the city begins. Now he is accused of spying for the
French. Whose side is he on?")