John DUFFUS

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  • "My very sincere regrets to the family. I lived with them..."
    - Linda Materi
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    - Verna duckworth
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    - Gail Roger
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Obituary

DUFFUS, John BApSci, BA, D. Phil, P.Eng, ndc Was born in Vancouver, B.C, where he graduated from the University of British Columbia with degrees in Applied Science (Engineering Physics) and Arts. He later attended summer courses at Columbia and McGill Universities while teaching in the physics department at the newly opened Carleton College in Ottawa. Employment at the National Research Council led to a scholarship to New College, Oxford, where he completed his doctorate in low temperature physics. He held a teaching assistantship in Oxford before returning to Canada and a research position at the Pacific Naval Laboratory (now Defense Research Establishment Pacific) in Victoria. Early land and sea experiments included study of underwater acoustics and geomagnetic fluctuations connected with submarine detection. A new career followed when John was recruited to head the physics department at Royal Roads Military College. He taught cadets and continued his research, turning the former Hatley Park dairy barn into a physics laboratory. He was later appointed Dean of Science and Engineering and played a large role in transforming the two-year college into a four-year degree-granting university offering degrees in oceanography and earth sciences. Further study abroad took him to Cambridge University for ionospheric studies and to a year at Oxford and the Universite de Paris for undersea magnetism research. Over his career he published more than 40 papers for professional journals and scientific reports. He was selected for the year-long National Defense College program which brought together senior military officers and civilians to study geopolitics and economics, during extensive travel to 22 countries. John was elected as a Victoria school trustee, and continued his community work as a founder of the Victoria branch of Tetra where he used his engineering skills to design special devices for people with disabilities. John was a wise and loving father, and a hero to his two grandchildren in whom he encouraged scientific curiosity, confidence and fearlessness. They remember being issued safety goggles while together they determined whether a blow torch would melt their glass marbles into ornaments for a farm gate or just explode. They also recall the less successful attempt to boil home grown sheep's wool to make felt. John taught them horsemanship (having ridden his horse from Vancouver to the Okanagan for a ranching job as a teenager) and a sense of style: rather than simply burning two old wooden boats on his View Royal farm he added drama by igniting them with a hail of flaming arrows. With his physicist's eye and innate sense of wonder at the world, John Duffus, Professor Emeritus, was an inspiration to those around him and a joy to be with. He will be missed. John is survived by his wife Maureen; sons Rob (Nina) and James (Kathleen); granddaughter Elizabeth (Marc) and grandson Gavin. No service by request. Donations may be made to the Canadian Diabetes Association. 656051
Published in Victoria Times-Colonist on May 12, 2012
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