George MOLNAR

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  • "My condolences to the family on the passing of Dr Molnar a..."
    - Linda Duncan


MOLNAR, George Dempster
MD, PhD, FACP, FRCP (C)
Professor Emeritus of Medicine, University of Alberta, Founding Director and former Co-Chair of the Muttart Diabetes Research and Training Centre, Canadian Army veteran.
July 30, 1922 – May 28, 2018
Székesfehérvár, Hungary – Edmonton, Alberta
Demeter George Eugene Molnar (known since September 1947 as George Dempster Molnar) was born in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, to Clara Bertha Molnar (née Becker) and the Rev. Eugene Frank Molnar, PhD. (Geneva) (1892-1986), a clergyman of the Reformed Church. After the couple divorced, Pastor Molnar married Rose Waldman and accepted a call in 1926 to minister in Kipling, Sask., and then, among others, in Windsor, Hamilton, and Calgary. Clara married Jenone Pentsy, an army officer. From school and daily life George learned Hungarian; from his mother, French, German, and English; and from his stepfather, army etiquette.
With Europe in political turmoil, George travelled alone to Canada to live with his father and stepmother, landing in Quebec July 16, 1939.
After joining the Southern Alberta Light Horse (the Calgary Tank Regiment), a reserve formation, George enrolled for active service on May 8, 1942, receiving basic training at Dundurn, Sask., officer training at Camp Borden, Ont., and specialist intelligence courses in England (Cambridge and Matlock, Derbyshire). Promoted to Captain February 13, 1943, he served the First Canadian Division as General Staff Officer III, Intelligence, in Sicily, Italy, and the Low Countries.
On May 5, 1945, George was ordered to travel to Wageningen, in central Holland, without being told why. There, General Foulkes and his staff confronted a succession of German officers to dictate the terms of capitulation. As General Foulkes read the document aloud, George translated into German, and then conveyed the Germans' questions and requests for clarification, and his CO's responses. This capitulation was a triumphant culmination of the outsize role Canada had played to help defeat Hitler. In recognition of the end of Holland's nightmarish occupation, Wageningen was designated City of Liberation, and May 5 national liberation day.
The Army then ordered George to oversee the Germans' compliance with the strict terms of the capitulation. Familiar from childhood with military etiquette, and accompanied only by his driver, he moved freely and confidently among the German formations, overseeing the orderly departure from Holland of some 117,000 German troops. So professionally and competently did he fulfill those duties that a German staff officer, as a mark of respect, bequeathed him his sidearm, which George later donated to the Canadian War Museum.
In recognition of his services, Queen Wilhelmina named him Knight-Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, with Swords. His other military honours include the 1939-45 Star, the Italy Star, the North-West Europe Star, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, and mention in despatches for distinguished service (London Gazette, April 4, 1946). Demobbed 13 Nov. 1945, George enrolled in Science at the University of Alberta in January. One evening, he remarked that he had dated several women but there wasn't one he wanted to date again. Peter Roberts replied, "I know just the girl for you," and introduced him to Gwen McGregor, a veteran of the RCN then studying Education, and a member of a prominent Strathcona family. As George later recounted, "nature pretty much took its course," and the couple married in Holy Trinity Church (December 24, 1947).
George graduated B.Sc., First Class (1949), and MD (1951), earning gold medals in medicine and surgery, and the highest grades attained to date at the faculty. One of his instructors, Dr. Walter Mackenzie, seeing his potential, sponsored his appointment as a Fellow in internal medicine at the world- renowned Mayo Clinic, and in 1952 George and Gwen moved to Rochester, Minn. George earned a PhD. in medical physiology from the University of Minnesota (1956), subsequently receiving widespread recognition for his research into the continuous glucose monitoring of "brittle" diabetes. His outstanding service as clinician, teacher, and researcher in endocrinology and internal medicine resulted in his appointment as associate professor, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, consultant in medicine, and then professor of medicine.
He wrote, alone or with others, well over 100 published research papers. In 2017 Dr. F. John Service, a retired Mayo colleague, reviewed the history of diabetes research there and "made the point as strongly as possible that studies regarding the understanding of type 1 diabetes and its treatment conducted at Mayo after your departure were a direct consequence of your foundational work which, by the way, continue to the present day."
In 1975 George became professor and chairman of the U. of A.'s Department of Medicine, later helping create the Muttart Diabetes Research and Training Centre (now the Alberta Diabetes Institute), becoming, in June 1981, its first director and then co-director, with Dr. Alex Rabinovitch. George's leadership and skill as a recruiter contributed to the Edmonton Protocol, a breakthrough in diabetes treatment. The Institute's 2008 annual report states: "Many of the successes enjoyed by diabetes investigators at the University of Alberta, including the development of The Edmonton Protocol and the Alberta Diabetes Institute, rest on the strong foundation of interdisciplinary diabetes research inspired by Dr. George D. Molnar." He retired as professor emeritus in 1986, stepped down from teaching and clinical work in 1991, and as co-director of the Muttart in 2009.
George is survived by his wife, Gwendoline Esther (née McGregor), B.Ed., B.A. (Art), daughter Gwendoline Jane, B.Ed., a graduate of Fine Arts and Industrial Design; son Charles, B.Ed., a professor of genetics and biology at Camosun College, Victoria; and granddaughter Hazel, a graduate of University of Waterloo's Environment and Business Program.
A public ceremony of commemoration will be held Saturday, June 16, 11:00 a.m., at Hainstock's Funeral Home, 9810 34 Avenue NW.

Published in The Edmonton Journal on June 13, 2018
Arrangements under the direction of:
Hainstock's Funeral Home & Crematorium
9810- 34th Ave | Edmonton, AB T6E6L1 | (780) 440-2999
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