Henry Bolker, FCIC


Henry I. Bolker passed away in Montreal on January 13, 2013 at age 86.

Bolker was born and raised in Montreal and served with the Canadian army during the Second World War. He received an honours B.A. in biochemistry from Queen’s University in 1948, an M.A. in chemistry from Queen’s University in 1950, and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Yale University in 1952. Bolker did post-doctoral work at McGill University and worked for Dupont Canada before joining the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (PAPRICAN, now known as FPInnovations) in 1960. He would remain with the organization until his retirement, eventually rising to the rank of Director of Research. Concurrently, Bolker served as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chemistry at McGill University from 1963 until 1992.

Prof. Bolker’s productive scientific career saw the publication of 87 peer-reviewed journal articles, 3 patents and a textbook: Natural and Synthetic Polymers: An Introduction, published by Marcel Deckker, Inc., New York, 1974. Over the years, 13 PhD and 8 Masters students graduated from his lab. He was an active Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) and served many roles for the organization, including Chair of the CIC board (1979-1981) and CIC President (1987-1988). In 1984, he received the institute’s prestigious Montreal Medal. Other organizations with which he was involved include the Network of Centres of Excellence on Mechanical and Chemimechanical Pulps (Founding Director) as well as the Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada, which still gives out an award in his name for best student presentation at its annual conference.

Bolker was also active in many chemistry outreach activities. In 1960 he founded the Montreal Science Fair, serving as its first chairman. He also served for many years with the Youth Science Foundation and began the publication of Science Affairs, a periodical for students. He pursued many interests and served the community as an Officer of the Lakeshore Chamber Music Society, the Lakeshore Dog Training Association, and the Stewart Hall Cultural and Community Centre.

Bolker is predeceased by his wife Estelle Samuels. He is survived by his sister Nancy, daughter Louise, and grandchildren James and Lara.

Thanks to Jack Bordan for providing the basis of this obituary. Photo credit: Pulp and Paper Canada.

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