Peter Hahn
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HAHN Peter 8.11.1923 - 28.8.2007After a short struggle with cancer, Peter died at home with his cat, Macek, and his family at his side.He and his younger brother Frank, the Cambridge economist, were born in Berlin. Their parents, Arnold and Maria Hahn had their roots in the Jewish communities, German and Czech speaking respectively, in what is now the Czech Republic. In 1934 the family moved back to Prague, where Peter attended an English high school. Once again keeping a step ahead of the Nazi tide, the family emigrated to London in 1938. In 1941, Peter started his university studies at Swansea. His studies were interrupted a year later, when he enlisted in the Czech squadron of the RAF. He returned to Prague after the war, although most of his family made their home in Britain. In medical school, he met Nadezda Novozamska, who became his wife in 1948. In 1949, they had their first son, Gena, in 1954 their second, Martin. In 1953, Peter started his career as a medical researcher at the Physiological Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. He specialized in the physiology and biochemistry of infant nutrition, in particular enzymes and the metabolism of fats. He did pioneering work in what is now a major research area: the effect of early nutrition on later development and health. His work was internationally recognized and widely cited and, in 1966, he was invited to spend four months visiting Stanford University. When the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia forced yet a fourth emigration upon him in 1968, he wrote half a dozen postcards to colleagues at various institutions and received 18 offers of positions from universities around the world. The offers included ones from institutions like MIT and Oxford University. Of all the countries that the Hahns could have chosen, Canada offered the best chance of a peaceful, prosperous life for a family of immigrants in possession of one suitcase of personal belongings and 500 pounds sterling. Peter accepted the position UBC offered and, as of October 5th, 1968, Vancouver has been his and his family's home. His work at UBC's Centre for Developmental Medicine continued to bring him worldwide recognition, his natural pedagogical talent made him an outstanding course instructor and graduate supervisor. One of his greatest legacies is a large group of scientists who trained in his lab and continue to advance the areas of research he helped found. Peter Hahn was a fellow of The Royal Society of Canada, The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and The American Society for Nutritional Sciences. Since his retirement in 1989, he and Nada lived a quiet life in West Vancouver with their cat, Macek, visiting the Czech Republic frequently. His devotion to Nada was all the greater in recent years, after her Alzheimer's disease diagnosis was confirmed.Peter was a man of great wit and charm, a voracious reader, a steadfast friend to many people, and a casual one to many more (as well as to dogs, cats, lemurs and other animals he met). He had an insatiable curiosity, disdained convention, despised pretense, and categorically refused to get old and set in his ways. His humour could bite, his social informality could offend; but he was one of the kindest, gentlest people to walk this earth. He leaves behind a great void, many warm memories, and a central mystery: how could a man who couldn't make a cup of coffee without getting coffee grounds into every kitchen drawer be so successful at running a complex biochemical laboratory?He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Nada; his brother Frank and his wife Dorothy; his son Gena and his wife Dominique Sotteau; and his son Martin, his wife Kathleen Akins, and their children Majka and Lev. Macek looks for him every day. At Peter's request, there will be no service. Please do not send flowers but think of a charity instead: cancer research, Amnesty International, Plan Canada. His family can be contacted at (604) 926-1602,, or hahn@ .

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Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Sep. 8, 2007.
Memories & Condolences
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16 entries
March 27, 2011
To Nadia,
I thank you for all you did for me when i worked with Dr. Hahn.
I was thinking of you and Dr Hahn today.

salim hassanli
March 27, 2011
Dear Nadia,
I was sorry to heart this news.
Dr Hahn was a great person. He gave me my first job in Canada. He was very fair person just like you.
To your sons, my condolences.

salim hassanli and family
June 15, 2010
Just a brief note that Peter's dear wife Nada followed him on 26 April 2010, peacefully. More about her later.
Gena Hahn
March 15, 2009
The day Peter died, Macek was sad and remained so for many months..
On 3 March 2009 the cat that Peter brought up and spoiled followed his master. He was almost twenty years old and when he was orphaned at eighteen, he cried for many months.
Gena Hahn
February 5, 2008
Dear Nadja,
I only very recently recieved the sad news of Peter's death.
I am very sorry and I wish you and your sons all the strenghth you need.
Love Magda
PS. I add the e-mail address of my son Walter, not having access to a computer myself
Magda van Emde Boas
January 21, 2008
My deepest sympathy to Gena and Martin from your distant cousin Philip Moravcik.
Philip Moravcik
October 6, 2007
I have just learned about Peter's passing. It is with deep sadness that I realize that his great humor and wisdom shall no longer be with us here. His memory, however, the memory of my greatest teacher, advisor, collaborator and colleague,and foremost a bright role-model for over 40 years will stay with me forever. My sympathy to Nada, Gena and Martin.
Josef Skala
September 19, 2007
Peter was a father, and a friend to me. He was kind, funny, intelligent, and loved to be ridiculous and insulting; I am honoured to have known him and loved him. I will miss him everyday.
Margaret Mould
September 12, 2007
Petr and Nada are our childrens substitute grandparents. We have known them longer than our own parents...
There was never a dull moment in Petr's company. With the kids he communicated in a made up language
and usually we all got involved.
Everyone probably has a Petr story, here is our favorite one:
Petr dropped a coffee mug on the floor exclaiming :"Darn, this table is way too narrow!".
He was a true Mensch and we will miss him greatly.
Marta and Ivo Taller
September 12, 2007
Peter was my great teacher(since 1972),chess partner and last but not least a great family friend.

He and Nada were one of the (unfortunately not that many)friends one could always depend on /turn to with any problem.

Both he and Nada were unpretentious,sincere-which was occasionally galling but very often helpful.Our Thursday sushi lunches with Peter became quite an institution over the last 15 years.

He'll be greatly missed by our family.

Jiri Frohlich
Jiri Frohlich
September 10, 2007
I was introduced to Peter when I was only a few hours old, I still have the stuffed dog he gave me then, a pink monstrosity that we called Hahnik. As I grew up, Peter and Nada were constants in my life, and I always knew them as funny and entertaining members of my extended family. It was only when I got older that I realized how brilliant and accomplished Peter was, and although that knowledge intimidated me, Peter never did, for he was one of the kindest people I have ever met. I will miss him greatly, as I know my parents already do.

Teresa Frohlich Reid
Teresa Reid
September 10, 2007
Zdenek Drahota
September 10, 2007
Peter Hahn was not just a great scientist,but a great human being as well,with warm heart and a kind sense of humour.We'll miss him!
Helena Illnerova
Helena Illnerova
September 10, 2007
Petr Hahn was not just a great scientist,but a great human being as well,with kind heart and a great sense for humour.We'll miss him!
Helena Illnerova
Helena Illnerova
September 9, 2007
I am so sorry for the loss of the unforgettable teacher and my best friend. Please accept my deepest sympathy
Milada Dobiasova
September 9, 2007
I met Peter Hahn in medical school in Prague. I had just moved there from Hungary, survivor of the Holocaust, my parents killed. I didn’t know a soul in the city, hardly spoke the language. I was lost and lonely, Nada and Peter took me in like a member of their family; Nada became my best friend. The Hahns had a great circle of friends; people were drawn to them for their hospitality, their genuine interest in people and Peter’s great sense of humor and exceptionally sharp mind. Besides his great talent for science he was well versed in all forms of art, both visual, music and literature,
I wasn’t the only lost soul who received their care. Young people from Burma, Nepal and other immigrants flocked to the Hahns for comfort and friendship. Peter was a very well rounded person. When he talked, everybody listened.
After we all emigrated from Czechoslovakia, We ended up on the opposite coast of America; we kept in touch by phone and E-mail. Zdenek and I visited them in Vancouver in 2001. When we said our goodbye with a group hug, we didn’t know that it was the last one. I thought that peter would live forever. It was good to know that he was there. We will miss him terribly.
Judita Hruza
I knew Peter very well from our daily work in the Institute of Physiology, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and several conferences abroad where we were together. He was an excellent scientist and was well liked by everybody. After the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia was offered a job of a director of our Institute of Physiology, He rejected this offer because he did not want to move again, he was quite happy in Vancouver. He really enjoyed jokes I kept E-mailing him. Everybody will miss Peter.
Zdenek Hruza
Judita & Zdenek Hruza
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