It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Lechoslaw Adam Maria Utracki, "Leszek", son of Lucjan Utracki & Irena Zdun, after a three-year long battle with cancer.
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Born on Aug. 1, 1931 in Bedzin, Poland Leszek spent his childhood there until WWII Nazi occupation and persecution forced his family to flee to the village of Gwozc, where they remained until the end of the war in 1945. The war's effects on him were life-long and extreme and may account for his inner drive and unusual strength and athletic prowess. Following his family's return to Bedzin, Leszek began his studies in Dabrowa Gornicza, where he earned his Master's degree and began doctorate studies in Gliwice. In 1955 Leszek continued his studies at the Lodz Polytechnic
In 1955 he met his wife Czeslawa at the Polish High Mountain Club. A year later he was recognized for his excellent mountaineering and leadership skills and was invited to join the very elite French climbing organization Groupe de Haute Montagnes. His exploits took him to the French Alps and the Caucasus Mountains. "Tau Gin Padyszaha," published in 1960, was the second of three books he authored about his climbing and mountaineering experiences.
The next chapter of his life took place in North America. After earning a Ph.D. in physical chemistry of polymers from the Polish Academy of Science, Dr. Utracki completed his post-doctoral work at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles with Dr. Robert Simha, and then at Case Western in Cleveland.
He settled in Canada in 1968 and a year later he was joined by his wife Czeslawa and twin daughters Dorothy and Marianna. He worked successively at Shawinigan Chemicals; McGill University; and at CIL, Inc. before joining National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Materials Institute in 1980, where he worked until his death.
The spectrum of his research ranged from thermodynamics to rheology to shaping of multiphase polymeric systems such as alloys, blends, composites, nanocomposites and foams. Dr. Utracki authored over 500 papers in journals and in proceedings of conferences, 40 book chapters, was awarded 12 patents, and has written or edited 21 books on science. He was the chief editor of the second edition of the Handbook of Polymers and Plastics at the time of his death.
NRC states: "A pioneer of National Research Council's Industrial Material Division (IMI), Dr. Utracki had actively made ??an outstanding contribution to establishing the international credibility of the institute at a key moment in its development."
On top of his ongoing research work, Dr. Utracki also organized and conducted extensive seminars and teaching engagements in countless countries in Europe, Asia, North and South Americas. These contacts with the international scientific community often resulted in lasting friendships.
To quote his long time friend, colleague, and "brother" Dr. J.S. Anand: "His passing has created an irreparable loss to the scientific community and that vacuum that will now remain throughout our lives".
An intensely private man, he bore hardship and joy with quiet dignity.
The family of Dr. Utracki will receive condolences at
the Collins Clarke MacGillivray White Funeral Home:
27 Salisbury Avenue, Pointe Claire, QC.
on Sunday, July 29 at 2:00 p.m.
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will follow at 3:00 pm.
with reception afterwards.
"In lieu of flowers" donations to cancer research would be appreciated by the family.
Published in The Gazette on July 17, 2012