Archive for the 'Remembrance' Category

In Memory of Mick Strubin, 1944 to 2012

Monday, March 5th, 2012

There were, not surprisingly, hundreds of people at the celebration of life for Mick Strubin. Bowen Island Fire Chief Brian Biddlecombe said of his friend and fellow firefighter, “Mick was born in West Vancouver in 1944 and retired shortly afterwards”. Funny and true — Mick was a lucky man, able to do pretty much what he wanted in his 68 years on the planet, and along the way he picked up hundreds of friends and admirers.

Mick’s son Christoph noted that his father was known for falling trees, firefighting, sailing and rugby. When we first moved to Bowen more than 30 years ago Mick was the one we called when we needed tree work done. Every year for more than a decade he would come over and take out a tree or two, often taking out fewer than we had initially thought was appropriate. It never seemed that we were hiring Mick to work for us. It always seemed more accurate to say that Mick was coming over for a conversation and would take down some trees, if he thought that made sense. And when he’d finally give us a bill, we always thought it was too little.

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In Memory of Liz Elliott, 1957-2011

Monday, September 12th, 2011

One of my first enduring visual memories of Liz Elliott is from a day in the late 1980s. Liz had just moved from Ontario to study in our Ph.D. program, and she was interested in murder – or more specifically, state responses to murder and murderers. The School of Criminology was in its first of three locations, on the 7th floor of the SFU Library; Liz was almost nine months pregnant and Milt had arrived in the School to pick her up. “Come on, rotunda”, he said to her affectionately, as they walked out of the department that day.

I did not know then how much I would learn from Liz Elliott and how much she would influence my view of murder and murderers, of prisons and prisoners, and of the importance of understanding and supporting those human beings who are typically the most vilified within our culture. In a recent email Liz thanked me for being a mentor to her (along with expressing frustration and outrage at yet another particularly lame initiative from the Harper Conservatives).

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Warren Gill, 1949-2010

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

The recent death of Warren Gill is a loss for all of us who knew him. He was funny, perceptive, mischievous and charming, a person who made everyone comfortable and who pretty much lit up every room that he walked into, that proverbial twinkle in his eye. From his obituary in the Vancouver Sun……

“Warren was one of the sweetest men on this planet and his ‘fan club’ comes from all walks of life. He made everyone feel at ease and was a kind and loving person who was a constant support for family, friends and colleagues: never judgmental, a peerless sounding board and confidante. Warren’s energy and love for life was contagious, as was his laughter. His keen intelligence and quick wit, combined with his optimism, enthusiasm and aura of happiness, carried him through life, even in time of great stress and physical difficulty…”

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Barry Beyerstein, 1947-2007

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Barry Beyerstein, a professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on June 25th. His daughter said that he was a man fulfilled, and he certainly seemed to be that — well loved by family, well respected by colleagues, and motivated by the highest of ideals.

I first met Barry a little more than 25 years ago, after my arrival at Simon Fraser. I quickly learned that he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the effects of various drugs on behavior; he would get a call whenever I had doubt about a recent piece of research on this subject, and he always provided thoughtful and thorough responses. Barry was also committed to drug policy reform, at the time a both politically and academically unpopular pursuit. His commitment to science gave him the tools to understand the contradictions of prohibition, just as it gave rise to his secular humanism, and his many encounters with astrology, the para-normal and other dubious ways of thinking about the world.

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