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Douglas Tyndall WRIGHT


1927 - 2020
Douglas Tyndall WRIGHT Obituary
DR. DOUGLAS TYNDALL WRIGHT, OC Passed away peacefully at home on May 21, 2020, with his wife and family at his side, celebrated with and surrounded by love. Devoted and loving partner and husband for many years to his wife, Zella Wolofsky, and for many years to his first wife, Margaret Anne Wright (Nee Maxwell). Father of William Maxwell Wright (Julia), Mathew Clyde Wright (Juliette), Robert Tyndall Wright (Nancy), Sarah Jane Wright Nordin (Eric) and Anna Marie Scott (Tom). Grandfather of Fiona, Meghan, Gregory, Nicole, Diana, Johnny, Jeff, Douglas, Matthew, David, Bjorn, Krista, Alexander, Samantha, Emily, Abbey and Michael. Great-Grandfather of Annabelle, Arthur and Ethan. Doug was born 4 October 1927 in Toronto, Canada, the only child of Etta Frances Tyndall and George Charles Wright. His greatest influences growing up were his mother, grandfather Robert Tyndall, grandmother Sarah Bowery, his Aunt Edna and Edna's husband, Clyde Green, an engineer. While Doug contributed very significantly to Canada as an engineer and civil servant, his greatest joy was his family: his five children, 17 grandchildren, their partners and three great-grandchildren. We will miss him deeply. Doug will be remembered by all for his insightful intellect, a strong will to fulfill his responsibilities, his endless curiosity, his joyful optimistic outlook, and his graciousness. By his children, he will be remembered for teaching them how to play poker at a young age, but more importantly for always being willing to inspire and to help his family achieve their ambitious goals, and as a devoted loving husband for years of joy with Margaret raising a young family and a young university, and for years of sorrow through Margaret's struggle with schizophrenia. Doug and Margaret established a strong family tradition of sailing, now extended to four generations of Wrights, with their sloop Abtu lovingly cared for by the family to this day. Many sailing adventures were enjoyed by Doug and the family, including crossing the Little Bahama Bank on a fast beam reach with dolphins at the bow, crossing 120 nautical miles of Lake Ontario in an October 40 knot wind, and wonderful vacations in the Bahamas, Florida Keys and Thousand Islands. Doug's Ph.D. and engineering interests focused on space frames, specifically curved surfaces framed with triangular lattices that make the most efficient structures. He developed the mathematical model, still used today, to allow space frame performance to be predicted. His projects included the Mexico City Olympic Sports Palace, the Ontario Place dome and forum, the Toronto Zoo pavilions, the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver, and serving as structural advisor on the Toronto Skydome. This work is continued by Doug's very good friend Francisco Castano and Francisco's company Geometrica, where Doug's contributions were critical to its success today as the leading designer and manufacturer of the largest space frame domes in the world. After his kids and grandkids, some of Doug's proudest achievements include the successful implementation of cooperative education at the University of Waterloo, establishing a modern curriculum at Waterloo, working with some of the most advanced structural engineers in the world in Mexico, instituting a system to provide annual funding of Ontario universities helping their incredible tripling of enrollment growth, and the digital edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (precursor to Open Text). In his trailblazing and impactful career, Doug was a structural engineer, Professor, first Dean of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, deputy minister in Bill Davis' Ontario government, and for eleven years the President of the University of Waterloo. Doug attended Danforth Tech on Greenwood Ave., received a B.A.Sc. from the University of Toronto in 1949, a Master of Science in 1952 from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1954. In 1954, he joined the Department of Civil Engineering at Queen's University in Kingston becoming Associate Professor by 1958. In 1958, he became a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He was Chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering from 1958 to 1963 and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering from 1959 to 1966. From 1967 to 1972, he was the Chairman of the Committee on University Affairs for the Province of Ontario. From 1969 to 1972, he was the Chairman of the Commission on Post Secondary Education in Ontario. From 1972 to 1979, he was Deputy Provincial Secretary for Social Development and from 1979 to 1980, he was Deputy Minister of Culture and Recreation. From 1981 to 1993, he was the President, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Research in Motion, Bell Canada, London Life, Perimeter Institute and numerous other companies. In 1991, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 1993, a Knight (Chevalier) in France's Ordre national du Mérite. Doug was a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and of the Engineering Institute of Canada. He received the Gold Medal of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and is a founding member of the Prime Minister's National Advisory Board on Science and Technology. He has received twelve honorary Ph.D. degrees. He enjoyed his retirement with his wife Zella, reading, cooking, spending time with family and travelling the world. His last days were made so much easier with the support of Zella, his family and the expert care of his team of caregivers. A celebration of life will be planned after the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. If desired, donations in Doug's memory can be made to the University of Waterloo. For memories and condolences to family, please email [email protected]
Published in The Globe and Mail from May 23 to May 27, 2020
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