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Gerald Samuel MARKS

MARKS, Gerald Samuel Born on February 13, 1930 in Cape Town, South Africa, and died in Victoria General Hospital in Victoria, B.C., in the early morning hours of November 2nd, 2013. He grew up, one of five children of Shimon and Annie Marks, in the midst of the vibrant immigrant Jewish community of Woodstock, Cape Town. After completing high school Gerry spent a year in what was then Palestine in 1946-47, an experience that had a lifelong impact on him. He then did his BSc and MSc at the University of Cape Town, before going on to complete a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Oxford University in the early 1950s. While completing his doctorate he courted and became engaged to Marion Tobias, the love of his life, also of Cape Town, who was visiting in England at the time. After marriage Gerry and Marion lived in Johannesburg for a year, before moving first to Ottawa in 1956 for an NRC postdoctoral fellowship, then on to Chicago for another postdoctoral fellowship, and then to London England for three years, where Gerry and Marion's two children, Lynne and Saul, were born. Soon after Saul's birth, in 1962, Gerry was offered a tenure track position in the department of Pharmacology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Gerry moved up rapidly at the U of A, becoming a full professor by 1967. In 1969 he was offered the Headship of the Department of Pharmacology at Queen's University, and the family moved again. Gerry built the department at Queen's up from very modest beginnings to a cohesive unit that became known across Canada and internationally for its teaching and research. He also had great integrity from the beginning of his career in not permitting any influence by drug companies on his department or his students, and was well known for his assignment for medical students in which they were required to assess the legitimacy of drug company advertising for a particular medication. Gerry had a brilliant scientific career with major contributions in a number of fields. He made particularly important contributions in two areas of research-the pharmacology of porphyrin metabolism and pharmacology of the gasotransmitters. His work in the former has led to significant advances in our understanding of how some drugs can be activated to attack the body's mechanisms for drug elimination. In this field, where he published his book Heme and Chlorophyll, he was a world resource. His work in the pharmacology of gasotransmitters led to opening up a new field of research that explores how certain gases, such as carbon monoxide, are made continuously by the human body and how they regulate a wide variety of bodily functions. Throughout his research career, Gerry has been a great mentor of students and postdoctoral fellows as well as his younger colleagues. His numerous research publications are a legacy that will serve the biomedical research community, especially that of pharmacology, forever. Gerry was also a wonderful and inspiring university teacher who won the Queen's Alumni Award for Teaching, and put a lot of time into mentoring students and junior colleagues with their teaching. While in Kingston he was active in curling, golf and in the Jewish community, and as someone with a strong sense of social justice, he fully supported his beloved wife Marion in all of her work with gay rights. Gerry was also known, by his colleagues, students, friends and family for his warmth, patience, kindness, integrity, generosity and sense of humour. His jokes and stories about growing up in an immigrant Jewish community brought to life a world that is no more. Eight years ago Gerry and Marion moved once more, to Victoria, British Columbia, to be with their daughter Lynne, son-in-law John, and most particularly their grandchildren Dori and Mira. Gerry's grandchildren gave him much joy, and he taught them a great deal about Jewish history and culture at a very personal level, and much more about how to be a true mensch, lessons that will remain with them forever. We would like to express our sincere thanks to Dr. Ted Rosenberg, Dr. John Fletcher and the nurses and other staff on the neurological ward of VGH who made Gerry's final week as peaceful and comfortable as possible. A funeral service for Gerry will be held Monday, November 4th at 1 pm at the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria, 3636 Shelbourne St, followed by internment at Hatley Memorial Gardens. Shiva will be held in the Harbour Room of the Laurel Point Condos, 225 Belleville St., at 7 pm on Monday, November 4th and at 7 pm on Tuesday, November 5th. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Kenya project, care of the Rotary Club of Victoria. For more information on how to donate email tdjones@telus.net.


Published in The Times Colonist from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5, 2013
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