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1933 - 2021
Whelan Funeral Home
515 Cooper Street
Ottawa, ON
HERBERT IAN HOWARD SARAVANAMUTTOO June 20, 1933 - October 3, 2021 Herb passed away after a short illness at the age of 88. Predeceased by his beloved wife and best friend of 60 years, Helen (née Buckner), proud father of Colin (Colleen), Malcolm (Dianne) and Neil (Kimberley), even prouder Grandpa of Taylor, Kendall, Callum, Paige and Jemima, and much loved by 12 grand dogs over the years. Herb was born in Monkton, Scotland near the end of the runway at Prestwick Airport, leading to an early and lifelong interest in airplanes. At the age of six, he could recognize all the British and German planes at the outbreak of World War II. He was a proud graduate of Allan Glen's School - a centre for STEM education long before that term became common - where he was an outstanding pupil and cricketer. He continued his studies at Glasgow University earning a BSc. in Mechanical Engineering with First Class Honours in 1955. Immediately after graduation, Herb immigrated to Canada to join Orenda Engines in Toronto to work on the Iroquois engine for the Avro Arrow. On February 20, 1959 - a Black Friday - he was one of 14,000 fired over the PA system when the Arrow program was cancelled. He was the first young engineer called back by Orenda and spent another five years there working on CANDU reactor projects and the birth of the Orenda industrial gas turbine programs. In 1964, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Bristol where he worked as a research consultant to Rolls Royce and the British Aircraft Corporation on the development of the Concorde power plant. He obtained his PhD in 1968 and his research, started on the Iroquois, resulted in a major improvement to the Concorde engine. Herb was invited to join Carleton University in 1970 and returned to Canada with his young family, remaining in Ottawa for the rest of his life. He spent 28 years as a professor at Carleton, including 10 years as Chair of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. During his career he maintained strong research contacts with industry on both sides of the Atlantic, however his true love was teaching. He was especially proud of a student assessment which commented, 'Tells great jokes!' He would often say he failed Retirement 101, as he continued teaching as a sessional lecturer for 20 plus years, only re-retiring because of his wife's failing health. By this time, he had completed 50 years of teaching at Carleton. He was proud to have introduced the Industrial Experience Program in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1988, which eventually led to the co-op program across the university. He was very active in the engineering profession, particularly with the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was President of CASI in 1979 and won the major gas turbine award of the ASME in 2004. In 1974, he was Founding Chairman of the NRC Committee on Industrial Gas Turbines, still going strong in its third incarnation. He was a Founding Director of GasTOPS Ltd. in 1980 and maintained a close association until his retirement. In 1980, he spent a sabbatical year with the Royal Navy in Plymouth with the honorary rank of Captain, R.N. Herb is probably best known for his authorship of Gas Turbine Theory, having first come across it as a student in 1954. After completing his PhD, he joined the original authors in producing a Second Edition with major improvements resulting from his research. He went on to produce further improvements culminating in the Seventh Edition and translation into five languages. Gas Turbine Theory has been in continuous print since 1951, a remarkable record for a technical book. In 2003, Herb started collaborating with Cranfield University in the U.K., first as an external examiner, and after four years as a lecturer on their industrial courses. This collaboration continued until the end of his days and was a source of great satisfaction. He was a Fellow of CASI, ASME, IMechE and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Awards included the Guggenheim Memorial Lecture (2002), the McCurdy Award (CASI, 2005), R. Tom Sawyer Award (ASME, 2004), International Collaboration Award (ISABE, 2008) and most recently the 2019 Award of the International Society for Airbreathing Engines for 'His Outstanding Contributions to Airbreathing Engine Technology'. Herb and Helen were avid travellers and made it a priority to show their boys the world. There were many family trips to exotic locations, as well as memorable sabbaticals overseas. Later, Herb and Helen enjoyed finely planned yearly adventures with the grandchildren, exploring much of Canada, while nurturing an interest in the wider world. In later life, Helen and Herb enjoyed hiking in Scotland and New Zealand. At 70, Herb was one of the oldest to walk the Milford Track in New Zealand. They were also proud to walk the West Highland Way - unaccompanied - when Herb was 72, covering 100 miles through the Highlands from Glasgow to Fort William; the map of Scotland shows this is uphill all the way. In the summer of 2021, Herb was nominated for an Order of Canada. Blessed with robust good health and a sharp mind, it was assumed he would be around for another decade or more. It was disappointing that a sudden decline in his health meant a formal decision on the award did not come in time. Referees, colleagues, students and friends agreed he was indeed a great Canadian. Also in 2021, a further donation to establish the H.I.H. Saravanamuttoo Catalyst Fund at Carleton University resulted in a decision to name the Saravanamuttoo Family Atrium in the new engineering building, currently in the final stages of construction. This, combined with the H.I.H. Saravanamuttoo Gas Turbine Laboratory and the Professor H.I.H. Saravanamuttoo Scholarship in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, will cement Herb's legacy at Carleton. A joint celebration of life for Herb and Helen will be held in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre (Canada Room) on Monday, November 1 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. The celebration will also be live-streamed. Details are available at Due to Covid-19 guidelines on gatherings, any person wishing to attend the service must contact the funeral home to confirm available space and present proof of 2x Vax at the NAC. Arrangements entrusted to The Whelan Funeral Home, tel. 613-233-1488 or [email protected] In lieu of flowers, donations to the would be welcomed.
Published by The Globe and Mail from Oct. 16 to Oct. 20, 2021.
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18 Entries
Prof. Saravanamuttoo was a great teacher and a good role model. He inspired me to aspire for more. His continued messages of encouragement kept me going.

I will forever cherish his words of inspiration in my heart. May he rest in perfect peace.
Sabina Nketia
November 18, 2021
I was quite shocked and saddened by the news of Herb’s passing. My sympathy goes out to the Saravanamuttoo family. It’s not everyday one finds someone who can make a job enjoyable and meaningful. Herb was that type of a person, and was one of the best bosses I’ve ever had the pleasure to work for; he was one of a kind, always jolly and whistling as he made his way to the office. I was blessed and thankful to have shared 4 years of my career at Carleton University with such a remarkable person. Not only did he treat me with respect and integrity, I became part of his family. Sitting around the table with Herb, Helen and the boys, I will always cherish the fun memories of those days in the late 70’s where I was welcomed to their home for Sunday dinners.
Having left Ottawa sometime ago, I did not know of Helen’s passing, but it must have been a most difficult time for him losing such a loved one. The last time I saw Herb was at a CURA event and very emotional, he spent time telling me about Helen’s illness. Wishing Malcolm, Colin and Neil, strength, peace and comfort during the loss of such wonderful parents, both gone too soon. Angela Zelmer Administrative Assistant Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering (1975-1980)
Angela Zelmer
November 13, 2021
I was a student at Carleton University from 1885 through 1989 when Herb was a Professor and Dean of Mechanical Engineering. His achievements, both personal and professional are remarkable. I remember him as a man with a great sense of humour and a zest and dedication to everything he did. I remember him moving through the halls of Carleton so fast his tie could not keep up. I took his course in Advanced Thermodynamic and Harangues (it was actually list that way in the Mech Eng course list). The Harangues part of the course consisted of Herb lecturing of something he thought was worth go on about, often for the whole lecture. As a graduate student I remember going with the other student for dinner with Herb and his wife at their house and Herb would out talk everyone there because he just could not slow down. I am at Pratt and Whitney Canada now and I and heartened to say that Herb’s little red book (Gas Turbine Theory) is still in use. Herb was helpful to me when I had to make some tough choices in the direction my studies took me. My condolences to Colin, who was a fellow student during my undergraduate years.
George Bennett
November 3, 2021
We are saddened for the loss of Mr. Saravanmuttoo. Our deepest condolences.
The Mika’s
Ela mika
November 2, 2021
Herb was my most memorable professor at Carleton University in the late 70's. He was one of those teachers who had a natural ability to capture the topic using anecdotes and stories, and compelled students to simply put down the pen, listen and learn, rather than try and scratch out all the content he was disseminating. A marvelous man who was polite and never condescending, and one who naturally commanded respect. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Herb.
Graham Turnbull
November 1, 2021
Ursula Selvadurai-Baumgaertel
October 28, 2021
Dr. Saravanamutto was a highly respected colleague and well-loved professor. He was internationally known for his brilliant designs which were original and ahead of his time. He was a truly fine leader and a kind friend to all who sought his assistance. He will always be an important and integral part of the history and traditions of Carleton University. On behalf of his colleagues and the generations of students he inspired, I offer sincere condolences to which I add my personal admiration for him and my most sincere appreciation to his family who offered him support and who sought to ensure that his legacy and name will remain part of the personal and professional histories of his students, the treasured memories of his colleagues and friends, and recognized as an important contribution to engineering for Canada and the world. With sincere condolences, Roseann Runte, former President, Carleton
roseann runte
October 25, 2021
Pray for the bliss of the late Professor Saravanamuttoo. Professor Saravanamuttoo taught me gas turbines at Carleton University 45 years ago. He will always remain in my memory as a professor, leader, and friend who made me study and work on gas turbines.
Okey Kwon
October 21, 2021
A truly wonderful man, a brilliant and inspiring engineer, encouraging teacher, mentor in every best sense of that word, and a thorough gentleman. It was an honour to know him.
Barry MacLennan
October 20, 2021
Herb was a wonderful prof and a major source of inspiration that started my 38 year career in mechanical engineering. I’ll never forget him and I still remember and retell his jokes to this day, to anyone who’ll listen. So sorry to hear of his death and my condolences to his family.
Jim Ross
October 18, 2021
It was my privilege to have had the pleasure of working for and being associated with Herb from the time he joined Orenda until he left to join Bristol. We have remained friends ever since and I am proud to have had Herb & Helen as friends all these years. Sincerely Doreen Dillon
Doreen Dillon
October 18, 2021
Educator, mentor, colleague, friend. Knowing Herb enriched my life for more than 40 years starting when I was an undergraduate engineering student. Throughout his career he made engineering contributions that remain relevant today. He was kind, generous, humorous, an engaging speaker and a travel enthusiast. Herb influenced the lives of so many, Canada is fortunate that Herb decided to make it his home. I will miss him.
Greg Chapman
October 18, 2021
I'm very sorry to hear of Herb's passing. I knew him as a colleague at Carleton University, and later saw him and Helen regularly while visiting my mother at the same retirement residence. Herb was a terrific fellow, always upbeat and enthusiastic, generous and helpful. I have also just become aware of Helen's passing too. So sorry to hear of that too. My deepest condolences to the family.
John Chinneck
October 17, 2021
As a student I met Herb over 40 years ago when I was taking his Gas Turbine power plant course at Carleton. His excellent teaching style was very ‘down-to-earth’ and focused on basics of system design with visual examples – so these inspired me and many other youngsters into getting involved with industrial activities. He was very well known and respected internationally, and we often shared experiences in some courses that we taught together with other colleagues across Canada. A well deserved Order of Canada nomination, he will be missed by many.
Manfred Klein
October 16, 2021
There is no real way to capture this but Herb was a mentor, a friend and an inspiration to me. His passion for Gas Turbines fuelled my own. His commitment to Canadian industry enabled me to participate in it and his sage words of advice, thoughtful suggestions and recommendations set me on a career path that I didn't even know existed at the time. But more than that, Herb exemplified everything it meant to be a gentleman and a caring, compassionate human being. Thank you my friend for being such an important part of my life. I'll miss you.
Gord Aker
October 16, 2021
I was privileged to have met Herb, we are the same age 88,born a few miles from each other in Scotland and came to Canada the same year 1955. Thought we would have had many more years of friendship. As a pilot and member of the Aviation Historical Society I have attended a couple of Herb's presentation at the museum.
Bill White
October 16, 2021
I’m so saddened by your loss. My deepest condolences to the whole, wonderful family. Love you guys.
Doug Anderson
October 16, 2021
Herb’s contributions to the field of design and application of gas turbines in aircraft propulsion and other uses are many and varied, but in my view, his kindness and generosity, ethics, and endless good humour are equally worthy of recognition. His skill as an educator and writer and the thousands of bright young (and not so young) minds influenced by this wonderful engineer are a true affirmation of the old adage “To teach is to touch a life forever”. Canada has lost a great person and we have lost a treasured friend, but his contributions will continue through his three sons and their families and those many students throughout the world. Farewell Herb - you will not be forgotten.
Peter Frise
October 16, 2021
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