1940 - 2013
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KNOWLES, John David
1940 - 2013
John was born in NDG, son of Charles Noel and Gertrude Knowles and youngest brother to Peter, Charles and Elisabeth. As a boy, John loved the Laurentians and the discovery of boats and the winding North River. After enduring Lower Canada College for several years, he was grateful to escape into a more bohemian identity at Dalhousie in Halifax, where he studied engineering physics. During three decades of work at McGill University designing research instrumentation, John was always planning the next iteration before the initial product was delivered. He was passionate about alternate energy and quite despairing about the future of the environment. After retirement, John continued to design innovative medical devices. As one of his McGill colleagues commented, "John's art has a following - and international appeal." John's singing and guitar playing were unique and riveting. Until the end of his life, he took great pleasure in musical sessions and performances with old friends in their group The What Four. Nobody could match John for storytelling. He kept listeners mesmerized with his tales of youthful adventures and his speculative meanderings about alternative lives often instilled wonder in listeners. His voice was unmistakeable and unforgettable, and his humour was quirky, expansive and contagious. John's reaction to a sobering medical diagnosis twenty years ago was, as always, thoughtful and creative. He proved the two-year prognosis wrong, parlaying his search for solutions into trips and adventures in the two decades that followed. Sailing with his wife Audrey was a great solace. He described how his shoulders relaxed as the shore receded. It was spiritual for him; dropping anchor one evening after navigating into a remote harbour on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore, he looked around and said, "It's like coming home to a room in my mansion." Despite a reflective and somewhat reclusive nature, John had close relationships with many lifelong friends. He cared deeply about his two granddaughters and watched their progress attentively. John died peacefully at home on December 16th. His presence will be sorely missed by his family, especially his wife Audrey, sister Elisabeth, son Peter, daughter-in-law Julie, grandchildren Erin and Caitlin, and nieces and nephews Wendy, John and Glenn. He will be missed by his musical circle and by his many friends in and out of the fellowship that gave him strength and inspiration, for which he was profoundly grateful. A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Church of Montreal (5035 de Maisonneuve West, Montreal, QC, H4A 1Y5) on Saturday, December 21 at 2 p.m., with a reception afterwards. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Friends of Canadian Broadcasting or to the charity of your choice.

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Published in Monteal Gazette on Dec. 18, 2013.
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