Our In Memoriam page carries details of graduates, staff and others linked to the university for whom we have received obituaries. Please contact us via email if you have information you would like to be featured.
Michael French, the first Head of the Engineering Department and its founding professor, died on Tuesday 24 February 2015. The undergraduate course he set up at Lancaster embodied radical ideas: extensive use of design-build-test projects in place of formal laboratories and a broad start to the course before students chose a specialist field of engineering. That these features of the course have endured to this day and latterly have been imitated elsewhere, is witness to Michael’s forward thinking. Sadly, he died just one week before the new Engineering Building on the campus was due to be formally opened.
Professor Shaun Fisher, member of the Department of Physics died on 4 January 2015. Shaun joined the department in 1988 and apart from a brief period working at CNRS in Grenoble has been with the department ever since. Shaun is regarded as one of the world’s leading low temperature physicists. Already as a graduate student he was devising experimental techniques which have since been taken up worldwide. In 1998 he was awarded the Charles Vernon Boys Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics “for a distinguished early research career in low temperature physics…” He has a long list of research firsts to his name but will be best remembered for his discovery of quantum turbulence in superfluid helium-three at microkelvin temperatures (previously thought impossible). He sat on the editorial boards of several journals and was in great demand for international conference talks and was a key member of the European MICROKELVIN network of leading low-temperature laboratories.
The wider low-temperature community has responded to this loss with many messages of support from around the world. The Lancaster Ultralow Temperature Group has lost a valued member and leader whose innovative and meticulous experimental abilities inspired and energised his colleagues. He will also be greatly missed by his colleagues in the Physics Department, where he was Director of Undergraduate Teaching for 5 years and by numerous cohorts of Lancaster physics students who benefited from his comprehensive, enthusiastic and stimulating lectures and laboratory demonstrations.
Simone Novello (PhD Marketing/ Sociology, 2006) passed away on 27th November after a prolonged illness. Simone arrived in Lancaster in June 2002 after completing a degree at the University of Trento to start his doctoral work under the supervision of Professors Elizabeth Shove (Sociology) and Luis Araujo (Marketing). He was awarded a Lancaster University Management School scholarship in his first year and the prestigious Tom Lupton scholarship from the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) for the remainder of his studies. After graduating, Simone joined CESUGA (Centro de Estudios Superiores Universitarios de Galicia) in La Coruña, Spain, an institution associated with University College Dublin. He leaves behind his wife Pilar Murias, a Professor of Economics at the University of Santiago de Compostela and a young daughter.
Anne Cluysenaar, former member of staff, died on 1 November 2014. Anne was a lecturer at Lancaster from 1965 to 1971, she was a member of the Department of English; primarily a poet but someone who also taught stylistics and even general linguistics, as well as American literature. Her funeral takes place on 19 December at Llantrissant, near Usk. An obituary for Anne was listed in the Independent (14 November)
Judith Kirk, neé Smallwood (English, 1979, Pendle) died in September after suffering with MS for many years. Judith started a successful career in public relations with Manchester University Press before moving to Thorsons Publishers in Wellingborough as publicity manager, eventually becoming publicity director. After Thorsons was bought by HarperCollins, Judith, not relishing the prospect of working for Rupert Murdoch, set up her own business as a public relations consultant (Smallwood PR) specialising in natural health products. This she continued with great success until 2010 when she was forced to retire through ill health. As well as running a business, Judith was an active Labour Party member in Market Harborough, Leicestershire and Redditch in Worcestershire and an enthusiastic school governor. Judith met her future husband, Peter, on their first day at University in 1976 and they married in 1984. Judith will be remembered by many contemporaries in Pendle for her individual style which marked her out against the uniformity of the late-1970s denim-clad campus.
Professor Graham Chapman died suddenly on 31 August. Following degrees from Cambridge and a Chair at SOAS, Graham joined Lancaster’s Geography Department in 1994 and was HoD from 1995 to 2000. He took early retirement in 2008 and was given Emeritus status. He was former Chairman of the British Association of South Asian Studies, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (1994) and the Centre for Advanced Studies (Oslo) 2008 to 2009. His main research interests included geopolitics, water and the environment. His interests in South Asia were well known across campus. In particular his lectures, that drew heavily on his personal experiences in India, gave a unique perspective and were rich in detail appreciated by students. Graham was a familiar figure cycling to work and on the University squash courts and will be sadly missed.
Nicholas Russell, the sixth Earl Russell (Politics, 1994, County), a tireless campaigner for disability rights and a member of the Lancaster University Court for 9 years died aged 45 in August 2014. He dedicated his working life to a combination of his favourite passions: disability rights and politics. He worked for a variety of disability rights organisations including the RNIB and Guide Dogs for the Blind, and he was politically active in not just the Labour party but also the Co-operative Group, where he was on the board, as well as the Socialist Environment and Resources Association and Transport 2000. Follow this link to read the full Guardian obituary.
The grandson of Bertrand Russell and the son of the historian and Liberal Democrat peer, Conrad Russell, Nicholas was styled Viscount Amberley between 1987 and 2004, and succeeded to the earldom at his father’s death on 13 October 2004.
Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Leech died on Tuesday 19 August at the age of 78. He joined Lancaster University in 1969 and was a founding member of the Department of Linguistics and Modern English Languages. He retired in 2002 and became Emeritus Professor in the department. In March 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Lancaster University, in recognition of his service and contribution to the University, particularly in research, and it was at this time he wrote a moving autobiography which can be read by clicking here. He had an international reputation for his work on stylistics, pragmatics, and descriptive grammar and his research on computer corpora, including the compilation of the LOB Corpus and the BNC (British National Corpus), has been instrumental in establishing Lancaster within the world top 10 for Linguistics. His expertise, knowledge and passion for Linguistics and the English Language will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him, and Lancaster University as a whole. Follow this link to read an obituary written by Greg Myers, Heao of Department of Linguistics and English Language.
Professor Peter Harman from the Department of History died on August 14th, at the age of 70, after a long illness. Peter’s widow Juliet has sent the following message:
Professor Harman joined Lancaster University in 1974 and stayed until his retirement in 2007. He published chiefly on the history of natural philosophy and physics in the 18th and 19th Centuries. His major research endeavour was on the 19th century physicist James Clerk Maxwell, whose seminal contributions - field theory and statistical physics - rank in importance with the work of Newton and Einstein and whose writings have been widely influential. His edition of The Scientific Letters and Papers of James Clerk Maxwell was published in three volumes by Cambridge University Press (1990-2002) and reissued in digital paperback in 2008. He had diverse interests in literature, music and art. His last work, the Culture of Nature in Britain 1680-1860 (published by Yale University Press in 2009) is a study of the aesthetics of nature. It embraces themes in art, literature, philosophy and science, exploring the interaction and cultural context of conceptions of ‘nature' in this period. Juliet Harman would like to thank the many former colleagues of Peter who have sent messages of condolence.
Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw, a Deputy Pro-Chancellor at Lancaster from 1978 to 1992, died in Manchester on Sunday 10 August at the age of 101. Dame Kathleen had a distinguished career as a mathematician, including as the first woman President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and as an outstanding researcher on magic squares; as an educationalist, for which she was appointed DBE in 1971; and as an expert amateur astronomer. Please follow this link to read the full obituary kindly written by Honorary University Archivist Marion McClintock.
John Cecil Clegg, mathematician and concert pianist (1928-2014) died suddenly on 9 August 2014. A service of thanksgiving for his life was held at St Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale on 15 August.
John was unusual in combining two separate strands in his career. He took first class honours in Mathematics from Jesus College Cambridge in 1949 and then went to the Royal College of Music for three years. He came to Lancaster from Aberystwyth and was appointed as lecturer in mathematics on 1 January 1966, but with an agreement by the vice-chancellor, Charles Carter, that he could couple this role with external work as a concert pianist. He was subsequently given a joint appointment by Lancaster, as pianist in residence, from 1981 to 1993. He toured all over Europe, Africa and the Middle and Far East, contributed recitals to BBC radio and television, and made numerous recordings.
Sir Richard MacCormac (1938-2014), Architect of the Ruskin Library, the University Library extension and Reading Room has died, aged 75. Sir Richard was one of Britain’s foremost modernist architects who was also responsible for Southwark Tube Station and Oxbridge college buildings. He was also a former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. A full obituary is available on The Guardian website.
Founding member of the University, Professor Alan Mercer died following a stroke in July 2014. In 1964, when he had the chance to start the Department of Operational Research (OR) at Lancaster with Pat Rivett and Mike Simpson, he could not resist the challenge of seeking to bridge the gap between industry and a University. This focus was to the fore throughout his career here. He formally retired in 1998, though, after retirement, he came to the University every week until all his doctoral students had obtained their degrees, and continued to lecture to the MSc course for a decade. Until very recently, he chaired most of the Department’s PhD vivas. Last September, he closed the Department’s 50th anniversary celebrations with a lecture of reminiscences which several of the alumni present regarded as spell binding.
Dr. Liliana Coposescu, recipient of a doctoral degree in Linguistics from Lancaster University in 2002, died in June 2014, aged 61, after a long battle with cancer. She entered a PhD programme at Lancaster University in 1997 through the LANCDOC project the University was then contributing to, in collaboration with the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research. Throughout her time at Lancaster, Liliana displayed a work ethic, determination, and personal qualities which won her the admiration and friendship of her supervisors as well as her colleagues. The friendships she struck up there continued long after she had returned to Romania, where she continued her professional progress by achieving habilitation not long before she passed. Liliana leaves behind a grieving family, loyal friends and many grateful students
Cliff Wilkinson, from the Department of Management Science, passed away in June, following his battle with cancer. Cliff came to Lancaster, to what was then the Department of Operational Research in 1965, from Liverpool University, where he had been involved in studying bus routing and scheduling. Following his retirement in 1990, he continued to be involved with teaching in the Department for another decade. Cliff made a huge contribution to the fledgling department, and will be remembered fondly by former colleagues and many students, particularly those he supervised on Masters projects.
David Curle (History, 1975, Furness) died on 23rd May 2014. His history degree from Lancaster stood him in good stead for his future career, helping him to gain positions within various companies including Bristol Myers and Whitbreads where he became Procurement Manager for the group. At university he broadcast for URB and became the envy of his friends when he interviewed some of the rock bands of the day, including Freddie Mercury and Hawkwind. He also used to visit the local folk club on Fridays, though the attractions was possibly the beer rather than the music!
Peter Fisher (Environmental Sciences, 1977, Cartmel), a leading figure in the development of geographical information science, died on 20 May 2014. After Lancaster he moved to the University of Reading for his MSc and completed a PhD at Kingston Polytechnic in 1982. Professor Fisher served as editor of the International Journal of Geographical Information Science (later Science) from 1998 to 2007, the very time when GIS was establishing its credentials within the wider arena of information sciences. He also worked on more political topics such as the impact of closed-circuit television and Global Positioning Systems on human rights.
Brian Kennett MA Marketing Education, 1973, passed away following a heart attack on 3 May 2014 aged 72.
Dr Andy McCabe (Engineering) died suddenly at home after a short illness in May 2014. Andy was a valued colleague, an alumnus of the School of Computing and Communications, LEC and Engineering and had been associated with the university for over 20 years. He was popular with everyone who had the pleasure to work with him and will be sadly missed.
Scott Anderton died on Sunday 20 April, aged 37. Scott joined the University in October 2012 in the Jisc Regional Support Centre (RSC) based in Bailrigg House and in this role he supported practitioners and managers at learning providers across the Northwest. Colleagues from RSC have paid tribute to Scott’s professionalism, positive energy and good humour. Scott is survived by his wife Kelly-Anne and children, Jamie, Sophie and Wilson.
Sylvia Bianconi, née Warburton (French Studies 1968, Bowland) passed away on March 31 2014 after a long and heroic battle against cancer. Her ashes were laid to rest on April 7 near her home in Fontenay-sous-Bois, Paris.
Frank Foster passed away in March 2014. Frank retired in 2000 after 34 years service to the Department of Physics as a lecturer, senior lecturer and reader in Physics. He was a member of the Particle Physics group and was involved in a number of very successful experiments at CERN, DESY and elsewhere. Beyond his departmental duties, he was a very enthusiastic and devoted road runner and one of the instigators of the annual Physics Relay race around the campus.
Professor Jaroslaví Krejci passed away on Sunday 16 February 2014 at the age of 98. Professor Krejci taught in the Departments of French Studies, German Studies and Religious Studies from 1969 to 1983 and received an honorary doctorate from the University in 2000. His funeral took place on Monday 24 February at Lancaster and Morecambe Crematorium.
David Bennett Taylor, MA Marketing graduate from November 1974, died on 10 February 2014. David emigrated to New Zealand in 1975, where he joined Waikato University as a Lecturer in 1975 and retired in 2007. During that period David advanced to Senior Lecturer and then Associate Professor. He was also Acting Dean from 1989 to mid-1990 and Chairperson of Marketing & International Management from 1992 until 2002. Since his retirement David was in demand and held many temporary contracts with WMS in teaching from 2007 to March 2013. David was a founding faculty member of a business school that the city and community can be very proud of and he was known for his quick wit and humour and was well respected by students, colleagues and friends.
Keith Soothill (BA Exeter, PhD London) died in February 2014. He came to Lancaster as a part-time lecturer in Sociology on 1 September 1973, and subsequently became a senior lecturer. His research interests were in the sociology of deviant behaviour, medical sociology,and the sociology of sport. When the Department of Social Administration was set up in 1974, he played a part in its Centre for Youth, Crime and Community. He was made a professor of social research at the end of the 80s and his inaugural lecture, on 21 April 1993, was entitled “Sex Crimes: Changing Patterns of Social Response”. After Social Administration became Applied Social Science in 1989, he became its second head of department in 1991. He was made a Professor Emeritus on 1 September 2006. Keith is survived by his wife Jennifer, son Anthony, daughter Debbie and his grandchildren, Iván, Tom and Joe.
His full obituary appeared in the Guardian
Faizel Vohra (English Language and the Media, 2007, Bowland) died in a car accident in February 2014. He worked as an account manager in public relations and in November 2012, he was featured in PR Week magazine as one of '29 under 29', a competition to find the best young talent in the UK PR industry. He also ran an online blog featuring new innovations in the food industry and mentored students at Lancaster.
John Richard Wheeler (PhD Physics 1999, BSc Physics, 1993, Fylde) died suddenly and unexpectedly on January 20 2014. Husband of Susie (nee Susan Davis, Culture & Communication, 1996, Pendle), father of Lydia and Eleanor and brother of Diane (Biological Sciences, 1984, Fylde). Susie would like to thank everyone who joined them in a creative, uplifting and loud farewell to John on January 31st and for all the messages of condolence.
John Patrick Brooke Rowley (History, 1976, Cartmel) died peacefully on 10 January 2014 aged 58 years in Shrewsbury after being diagnosed with terminal cancer last July. He leaves a wife, Susan, and two daughters Katherine and Eleanor. He worked as a teacher in Hampshire before joining the Advisory service, working in London and finally Shropshire. He loved reading The Guardian, watching football, researching his family tree, walking in the countryside and going on holidays to France and Spain.
Gill Sudlow was known to many staff and students on campus, having worked since 2003 managing campus guest rooms, and then transferring to Fylde College as College Residence Officer. She was always willing to roll her sleeves up and meet fresh challenges head-on. It was rare that a meeting with Gill would not result in laughter, either as a result of her distinctive way of putting things, or the crazy facts that she would impart. Gill was diagnosed with terminal cancer 18 months ago, but always hoped she would be able to return to work. She finally accepted that this would not be possible and we held a packed retirement do in December. Gill passed away at home on 29 December 2013.
Philip Aspden (MA 1968, PhD 1972, Operational Research) died suddenly on December 22, 2013, at his home in Washington, D.C. He came to Lancaster after receiving his BA (Hons) in Mathematics from Cambridge University. At the time of his death, Philip was Chief, Population Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs). He was also a professorial lecturer at the School of Public Health and Health Services of The George Washington University. Philip chose the public sector joining the British civil service immediately after graduate school, eventually serving in the Department of the Environment, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury. Seconded by DHSS to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna in 1979, he met and married Jeannette Weiss Lindsay; they were married for 34 years, and their two children have carried on his legacy of dedication to the public good. Cricket was Philip’s passion: he was an active member of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and of the C.C. Morris Cricket Library and he umpired at the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival for many years. He achieved cricket nirvana in 2008 when he umpired a Halifax Cup match involving the Gentlemen of Philadelphia at Lord’s, albeit on the Nursery Ground.
Wing Commander RAF Regiment (retired) Brian Liversidge (MA Management Learning, 1998, Graduate) died at home on Sunday 20 October 2013 after a long illness, aged 69. He was Chief Executive of the Brathay Educational Trust, Ambleside for 14 years from 1992-2006
Malcolm McDonald, Graduate Studies Officer in the office of the Academic Registrar for over twenty years, died on 5 August 2013, just three weeks short of his 80th birthday. Malcolm joined the staff of the university on 24 August 1964 as a Graduate Assistant, and he was thus one of the elite group who worked in Bailrigg Mansion before the university was officially open. A Board of Graduate Studies was set up late in 1964, independently of the undergraduate boards of studies, with responsibility for all graduate studies and students from admission to graduation. Malcolm oversaw a huge increase in programmes of study and student numbers before his retirement in December 1992 and his work laid the foundation of postgraduate studies as we know it today.
Gemma Oliver (BBA, 2009, Pendle) passed away peacefully on Friday 14 June, 2013 aged 26 years.
Dave Foster passed away suddenly in February 2013. Dave came to Lancaster to read Economics in 1967. A member of County College, he was a fine sportsman and played in the University 1st XI football team which got to the final of University Athletics Championship. He enjoyed socialising in the legendary Shakespeare Hotel and what then was the newly built County College Bar. In later years, along with Peter Waller, he made annual visits to campus and his old haunts in Lancaster and Morecambe. He is sadly missed by his son Jack and all of his friends from those days. His funeral took place in Northamptonshire.
Raymond Saffin (MPhil Physics, 1972, Bowland) passed away in September 2011 after a short illness, aged 64.
Geoffrey Nigel Brown (Philosophy, 1976, County) died suddently in August 2010 while living in Huddersfield aged 57. Geoff had wide ranging talents and interests. He was an accomplished musician, a piano and church organ player, and a composer. At Lancaster he edited Scan magazine late into the night in an office above Alexandra Square. While doing this, he was happy to provide stimulating conversation, accompanied by somewhat less stimulating Nescafe coffee whitened with lumpy milk granules. In those days Scan was put together from typed text pasted onto sheets of paper which would then be copied and printed. The process involved blue pencil which did not show up when copied, and many applications of Tippex to hide typing errors and marks. How times have changed in the magazine world. Geoff took aim at some of the more pretentious characters at Lancaster in his William Wormcast column. Somehow he also found time to be one of the first members of LURG – the Lancaster University Revue Group, founded by Keith Macdougall. He gave a memorable revue group performance as Victor Adereth, paying homage to one of the leading political figures on campus at that time.
After leaving Lancaster, Geoff gained a PHD at Newcastle University and went on to lecture at Newcastle, at Sheffield University and had two spells lecturing at Leuven in Belgium. His next job was in Leeds, where he changed from focusing on philosophy to working in computing.