Category Archives: Alumni In The News

Robert (Bob) LeRoy (’61) (1943-2018)

Robert James LeRoy, one of Canada’s foremost theoretical chemists and a North Toronto grad, passed away August 10, 2018, at the age of 74.

The second of four brothers, all of whom attended NTCI between 1955 and 1967, Bob was a keen and talented student. His brother John (’67) recalled:

“I remember in his final year of high school… he wrote exams in three different types of math. In two of them he received a perfect mark of 100%, while in the other he received a little less. He knew where he had made a careless error and he lamented about it for weeks after. He knew he should have been perfect in all three.”

After graduating from NT, Bob attended the University of Toronto, earning his B.Sc. in Math and Chemistry in 1965 and his M.Sc in Chemistry in 1967. He left Canada to pursue doctoral work in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, where he received his Ph.D. in 1971. He returned to U of T for a year of post-doctoral work before becoming an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo. He spent the rest of his academic career at the U of W and at the time of his passing was a Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Science for Computing.

His work focused on the behaviour of molecules and atoms, particularly the forces occurring among them. He became a giant in this highly specialized field, starting with his doctoral work focusing on non-covalent bonds. When asked to explain the complexities of his profession to laypeople he was known to say: “I study the sex life of molecules.”

Brilliant and energetic, Bob possessed an endless enthusiasm for new experiences and ideas. He inspired and mentored thousands of young scientists. One page of the chemistry textbook currently in use in Ontario high schools is devoted to the LeRoy radius, a technique for mathematically defining the radius of a small molecule, which is key to understanding the forces at work both inside and outside of that boundary. John Polanyi, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry, remembers: “Robert, whom I came to know as a student and later as a fellow scientist, exhibited indomitable courage and infectious joy in his creative life.” His page on the University of Waterloo website lists 114 research publications in addition to nine scholarships and awards. (http://leroy.uwaterloo.ca/cv.html).

It is interesting to note that Bob was not the only one in his family to follow a career in science. His father, D.J. LeRoy, was a research scientist at the National Research Council, and later the head of Chemistry at the University of Toronto (where he hired John Polanyi). His older brother Rod, ’60, pursued doctoral and post-doctoral work in supersonic molecular beams, and later became the CEO of one of the Noranda companies. Niece Jennifer is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Oxford, working on materials development in single molecule power generation. Quite the family business!
To view Bob’s full obituary in the Globe & Mail, point your browser to: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-chemist-robert-j-leroy-studied-the-sexlife-of-molecules/

Richard Van Praagh (’47)

This past summer, Ron Wakelin, Co-chair of the North Toronto Foundation, received a delightful letter from Dr. Richard Van Praagh (’47), Harvard Professor Emeritus, Harvard Medical School that was written on letterhead from Boston Children’s Hospital. The following excerpts are from Dr. Van Praagh’s correspondence.

I graduated from NTCI in 1947 (I’m 88 now). I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine. I graduated in 1954 with an MD degree. Then followed 10 years of postgraduate work. I fell in love with pediatrics and then with pediatric cardiology…

After 10 years of postgraduate work, [in October 1965] I was invited to join the staff of Boston Children’s Hospital where I have worked ever since as a pediatric cardiologist, pathologist and embryologist. I have written more than 310 scientific papers, published a video series, edited a book on congenital-heart disease and have just finished writing a medical book, The Diagnostic and Surgical Pathology of Congenital Heart Disease. I have also written a book for the general, non-medical reader, Survival: A New Approach from the Life Sciences to the Major Problem of Our Time

Returning to NTCI, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to NTCI for the excellence of its teaching. I remember Betty Bealey (English), Hal Brown (Athletics), Bob Gladish (Athletics) and “Bud” Page (Latin). A great crew; a wonderful beginning…

NTCI was an important part of my foundation… This is one graduate’s THANK YOU to NTCI.

 

We found this YouTube interview:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNp2vwgLDGk

Janet Zuccarini (’84)

As foodies will attest, Janet Zuccarini has made quite a name for herself as a restaurateur. After graduating from NT, Janet moved to Italy, where she completed her undergrad before pursuing an MBA from Boston University in Rome. A trip to Toronto for a friend’s wedding led to an opportunity to go into the restaurant business and move back to TO. Trattoria Nervosa, which opened in 1996 in Yorkville, was the result. Today, Janet is the sole owner and visionary behind Gusto 54 Global Restaurant Group and is a Top Chef Canada resident judge. An article about Janet and her most recent restaurant, Felix Trattoria in Los Angeles, was recently featured in the Toronto Star (April 5, 2018). The restaurant—a favourite of L.A.’s celebrity set—has also been lauded as Esquire’s “#1 Best New Restaurant in America” and Eater LA’s “Restaurant of the Year.” Despite branching out, Janet still calls Toronto home. Her contemporary Rosedale home was featured in The Saturday Sun (April 14, 2018) in the “celebrity spaces” series.

Diana Bishop (’71)

After a highly successful career in Canadian media and now heading up The Success Story Program, a personal branding business, NT alumna Diana Bishop has published her memoir, Living Up to a Legend: My Adventures with Billy Bishop’s Ghost. As the grand-daughter of WWI flying ace Billy Bishop and the great-great-granddaughter of Timothy Eaton, Diana grew up in a home that was far from ordinary. In her highly readable and often poignant book, she shares her grandfather’s powerful legacy and, although he died when she was only three years old, the profound influence he had on her life as well of that of her father.

The book and Diana’s story has been featured in both the Toronto Sun (http://torontosun.com/2017/06/04/living-in-the-shawdow-cast-by-first-world-war-hero-billy-biship/wcm/d095d36b-8544-42e8-959c-918d8f648a9a) and the Globe and Mail (https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/leadership-lab/billy-bishops-grandaughter-we-have-never-been-hungrier-for-responsible-focused-authentic-visionaries/article35356583/). Published by Dundurn Press, Living up to a Legend is available at Chapters-Indigo, Amazon and directly through Dundurn Press.

Nancy Steinhauer (’88) Pushing the Limits

When educator Nancy Steinhauer (’88) reconnected with a fellow NT alumna, editor Martha Kanya-Forstner (’87), who knew that the result would be an exciting new book? Pushing the Limits: How Schools Can Prepare Our Children Today for the Challenges of Topmorrow was co-authored by Nancy and lawyer and educational researcher Kelly Gallagher-Mackay (who attended NT before completing high school at Earl Haig) and edited by Martha Kanya-Forstner. The book draws on Nancy’s years with the Toronto District School Board as a teacher and principal and Kelly’s work as research director for People for Education to provide “a vision of what schooling can and should look like in our rapidly shifting world.” Highly readable, and of particular interest to parents and educators, the book highlights success stories of diverse and sometimes marginalized students and their innovative teachers in classrooms and schools where the future is now.

Nancy is currently principal of the Mabin School, one of Canada’s first Ashoka Changemaker Schools; Kelly is an assistant professor of law and society at Wilfred Laurier University. In 2016, Martha took on the role of editor-in-chief of McClelland & Stewart and Doubleday Canada and vice-president of Penguin Random House Canada.

The book and its authors have been featured:

Pushing the Limits is available in bookstores and through Penguin Random House (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/258497/pushing-the-limits-by-kelly-gallagher-mackay-and-nancy-steinhauer/9780385685382/).

NTCI Music Department & Foundation at Elvino Sauro Celebration

On September 30th, a celebration was held at the Toronto Skating, Curling and Cricket Club to remember the life of Elvino Sauro, who graduated from North Toronto Collegiate in 1952. Ron Wakelin, chair of the NT Foundation, spoke of Elvino’s involvement and the love he held for his high school. North Toronto was such an important part of Elvino’s life, and he always remembered a loan he received as a student to buy a trumpet and take music lessons.

In the past few years, he showed his gratitude by giving very generous endowments to our music program through the Foundation. After the speeches, 16 NT students, led by music teacher Liz Monteith, played some themes from movies. This was a fitting tribute to a man for whom film had been a lifelong love. After their performance the band played the school song, and over half of those in attendance rose to join in.

One interesting fact that emerged among the many tributes to Elvino was that he had a keen interest in gardening and planted a vegetable garden every year for over four decades. In some ways, this may be an apt way to remember Elvino: a person who planted seeds, cultivated healthy crops and lived to enjoy the results of his efforts.

While Elvino is no longer with us in body, the seeds he has sown will continue to bear fruit for generations to come. Many have benefited from the life of Elvino.
He will not be forgotten!

Jeffrey “Jeff” Turnbull (’70)

Over the years, NT Alumnus Dr. Jeff Turnbull has been in the news on a number of occasions. The highly respected doctor spent nine years as part of the faculty at the University of Western Ontario, where he also chaired the Division of Internal Medicine and served as deputy chief of the Department of Medicine. In 1991, he was recruited to the University of Ottawa and served as vice-dean of medical education for several years. He was also a key figure in the Educating Future Physicians for Ontario Project, and served as president of the Medical Council of Canada. He was appointed chair of the Department of Medicine in 2001, and in 2008 he became chief of staff at The Ottawa Hospital. He has been the recipient of many honours and awards including the Order of Canada (2007).

During the 90s, Dr. T, as he is known, became increasingly interested in providing better care to Ottawa’s homeless population. To this end, he helped establish Ottawa’s Inner City Health Project and has served as its medical director since its inception. This initiative has won numerous awards and received national as well as international acclaim. Working with the homeless has become Jeff’s driving passion, and it is for this reason that he has recently been in the news. At a time when he could think about retiring, Jeff is stepping down from his position at The Ottawa Hospital to spend more time working with the homeless. For full details, check the following videos:

Jennifer Wahlroth (’79)

NT alumna Jennifer Wahlroth was recently the recipient of a rare honour, bestowed on her by North West Territory Pipe Band. A certified accountant by day with Avery Cooper & Co. in Yellowknife, Jennifer started piping lessons in 1992 and began performing with the pipe band two years later. She also put her accounting skills to work as secretary/treasurer of the organization. This past January, her dedication to the band was recognized at its annual Robert Burns Dinner, when she was presented with a Lifetime Honourary Membership. Only the fourth person in the pipe band’s 40-year history to be thus honoured, she was previously awarded the Pipe Major Floyd Adlem Award in 2008 for outstanding service.

Daniel Levy (’02)

Daniel Levy, co-creator, writer and star of the highly popular CBC comedy Schitt’s Creek was featured in the December 2016 issue of Professionally Speaking, the journal of the Ontario College of Teachers. In the Remarkable Teacher segment, he paid tribute to Anne Carrier, Head of English at NTCI from 1998 to her retirement in 2005, and the pivitol role she played in helping him “find his voice.”

Levy recalled, “High school was a tricky time… I knew I wanted to write, to create, to have my voice heard but I had no idea how to do it.” But being in Anne Carrier’s class in 2001 was perfect timing: “She came along at just the right moment.” Dan specifically praised Anne for her emphasis on subtext and the “challenge of reading between the lines… She inspired me to think differently and continue to write.”

Kudos to Dan on his successful career and for recognizing
the major role Anne Carrier played in his journey to success.

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee (’79)

In January 2017, all media outlets were buzzing with the inspirational story of double lung transplant recipient Melissa Benoit. The surgical team behind this remarkable achievement was led by NT alumnus Dr. Shaf Keshavjee.

Recognized as a world leader in thoracic surgery, Dr. Keshavjee graduated from University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine in 1985, then trained in surgery at U of T, Harvard, and the University of London. A key member of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at University Health Network, Dr. Keshavjee is also an Officer of the Order of Canada (2014) and the developer of the Toronto XVIVO Lung Perfusion System, which allows donor lungs to be kept alive outside of the body in order to be assessed, treated and repaired before being transplanted into a patient.

Congratulations to Dr. Keshavjee and his team on their lifesaving innovations and remarkable achievements.