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1926 - 2013
HUBEL, David Hunter Of Newton (Waban) and recently of Lincoln, MA, September 22, 2013. Since 1953 the devoted and beloved husband of the late S. Ruth Hubel (Izzard). The son of the late Jesse and Elsie Hubel, David was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 27, 1926. Three of his grandparents were also born in Canada; the fourth, his paternal grandfather (Frederick), emigrated as a child from Germany to the Detroit, MI area where he invented and patented the first process for the mass production of gelatin pill capsules. Davids father (Jesse) was a chemical engineer principal in the chlorination of water and iodization of salt. David acquired U.S. citizenship through his parents and Canadian (dual) citizenship by birth. At the age of three Davids family moved to Montreal, Canada and where he attended Strathcona Academy in Outremont. As an undergraduate at McGill University he majored in honors mathematics and physics, partly to find out why nothing worked in electronics, but mainly because it was more fun to do problems than to learn facts. At a McGill choir rehearsal David met his beloved wife, Ruth. After graduating in 1947, he attended Medical School at McGill. In 1954 he began his residency in Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He was then drafted by the U.S. Army and was assigned to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Neuropsychiatry Division, where he began his career in medical research. In 1958, he moved to the laboratory of Stephen Kuffler at Johns Hopkins and then to Harvard Medical School, beginning a long, adventurous, and fruitful collaboration with Torsten Wiesel. The Hubel and Wiesel collaboration continued into the late 1970s, culminating the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1981. Hubel and Wiesels research provided fundamental insight into information processing and development in the visual system and laid the foundation for the field of visual neuroscience. David continued research and teaching activities at Harvard Medical even after his health began to decline earlier this year. David H. Hubel was John Enders University Professor at Harvard Medical School and a Senior Fellow of Harvards Fellows Society the jellos. His research and teaching career at Harvard spanned over 50 years having a profound impact on medical science. David loved learning and had numerous interests. He was fluent in French and German, and once gave a scientific lecture in Japan in Japanese. He loved to read and to travel. He played the piano, recorder and flute, and in 2013 took up the oboe. He was an avid astronomer (and built his own telescope tracking system to keep planets continually in the field of view, which he called his gronking gadget). Partly by necessity but also for sheer enjoyment he built many of his medical research devices. He was an avid tennis player, sailor, skier, and Red Sox fan. David and Ruth loved to vacation in New Hampshire at a second home, Bear Knoll, which they shared with many dear friends; in their later years they spent each summer at their cottage on Kempt Head, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In his spare time he loved woodworking and to design and weave wool rugs and scarves on his loom that made for wonderful gifts. David also practiced Morse code and was a ham radio enthusiast and would teach anyone interested how to use the slide rule or abacus. Beyond his wonderful sense of humor, perhaps his strongest legacy will be his kindness and generosity to his family, friends, his Harvard College undergraduate freshman seminar students, and his research trainees and proteges. David and Ruth were pleased to have established undergraduate science research scholarships at Dalhousie University, Wellesley College, and University of Windsor. David loved his wife and family. David is survived by three sons: Carl, Eric and Paul, two granddaughters, Anna and Mae, and two grandsons, Nathaniel and Thomas, all of whom loved their Grandpop dearly. David is also survived by many other loving family members including Carls wife Kathy and Pauls wife Claire, nieces Susan Orenstein and V. Louise Roth, Ruths brother, Grant Izzard, and his family in Canada, and the Glenn family of Pennsylvania. David was pre-deceased by his sister, Joan Roth, and niece Linda Roth. A memorial service for family and friends will be held at the Harvard Memorial Church on 16 November, 2013 at 2pm. Reception to follow. Memorial donations may be made to a newly established David H. Hubel undergraduate neuroscience research fund. (information for the memorial and the fund:
http://hubel.med.harvard.edu/memorial/ ). Of note, there will be a large public celebration of Davids scientific achievements in the spring of 2014 (date and time, TBA) organized by the Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School. Interment at a later date at Mt. Royal Cemetery, Montreal, Quebec. Douglass Funeral Home Lexington 781-862-1800 www.DouglassFH.com
Published in The Boston Globe on Sept. 24, 2013
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