In Memoriam

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.

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.

Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw (1912-2014), and 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.

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.

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.

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 1982Professor 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. 

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.