Kenneth Francis O'DRISCOLL
1931 - 2020
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It is with great sadness and unbounded love that we announce the death of Kenneth Francis O'Driscoll. Ken passed away peacefully on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at St. Mary's Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario. Ken is survived by his wife Patricia Mary Burns O'Driscoll. He is the father of five children: Teresa (and Bob Minty), Kenneth (predeceased, and Darline Besselt), Daniel (and Marj O'Driscoll), Carolyn (predeceased), and Michael (and Cecily Devereux). He is the grandfather of eleven wonderful young adults (Alana, Wesley, Janelle, Michelle, Bryanne, Ben, Jazz, Casey, Lauren, Dylan, and Bryn), and great grandfather of ten precious children (Jackson, Cooper, Sebastian, Cameron, Charli, Hannah, Jackson, Vaughan, Patrick, and Madeleine). Ken was born July 22, 1931 in Staten Island, New York City, where he grew up in a rural paradise, playing on the beach and sailing a dingy in New York Harbor. At the age of 13, and on the advice of a caring teacher, he challenged a highly competitive exam to attend Regis High School in Manhattan. After four years of commuting 90 minutes by boat and train in both directions, Ken was ready for a life of success. He received advanced degrees at Pratt Institute (B.Ch.E. 1952) and Princeton University (M.A. 1957, Ph.D. 1958). Ken pursued an outstanding career in Chemical Engineering, serving as professor at Villanova University (1958-66), SUNY Buffalo (1966-70), and the University of Waterloo (1970-92), where he was both Professor and Department Chair. He took great pride and delight in working with his students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows, and often remarked on the thrill of collaborating with these brilliant and driven young scientists. He published more than 200 research papers on polymerization, polymer reactor engineering, hydrophilic gels, and bound polymer catalysts, with ten patents in those areas. He was the developer of the Hydrophilic Contact Lens (or what are known as "soft contact lenses") in 1971 and Founding Director of the Institute for Polymer Research at the University of Waterloo. In 1996 Ken was named Distinguished Professor Emeritus, an honour that he greatly cherished. Ken and Pat were married on June 26, 1954 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and went on to live a life rich in adventure, travel, and family. They travelled the world, and spent sabbatical years in Japan, Germany, Sweden, and Australia, as well as a half-year trip through the great lakes and down the Intra-Coastal Waterway to Florida. They were avid sailors, and their ever-growing succession of sailboats (Fineen I, II, and III, named in honour of our pirate ancestor) were docked at Wiarton Marina, a launch point for glorious day-trips and extended stays in the North Channel of Lake Huron. Ken loved music, literature, and art—especially Pat's own vast collection of water colours that capture so many of their special moments. A cottage on the Bruce Peninsula was the site of family gatherings over the decades, including a wonderful celebration of their 50th anniversary in 2004. That same year, Ken drafted his memoir, Making Big Ones Out of Little Ones: Memoirs of a Father and Polymer Chemist. The sense of humour behind that title is so typical of a man who loved life, family, and a good chuckle. The last eleven years of Ken's life were spent living with Pat at Luther Village on the Park, where together they enjoyed lasting friendships and family visits in retirement. Ken will be loved forever and remembered fondly. A memorial celebration of his life will be held at a later date, and we hope to bring family and friends together at that time. Condolences for the family and donations to Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre and HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre (or a charity of your choice) may be arranged through the Erb and Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King St. S in Waterloo, at www.erbgood.com, or 519-745-8445.


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Published in Waterloo Region Record on Aug. 15, 2020.
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August 15, 2020
Pat and family, my sincere condolences with your loss. Ken was always a joy to talk to when I saw him.
Nancy (pharmacy)
Nancy Heldman
Acquaintance
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