Walter Edgar Harris, HFCIC, O.C., died Oct. 20, 2011 in Edmonton at age 96. An analytical chemist, Harris obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Alberta (U of A), then attained a PhD from the University of Minnesota. While in Iowa, Harris met and married Phyllis Pangburn, a professional public health nurse. The couple moved to Edmonton where Harris joined U of A’s Chemistry Department in 1946, retiring as an Emeritus Professor in 1980.
Harris raised the profile of analytical chemistry across Canada, authoring or co-authoring five books and more than 100 research papers. He modernized the teaching of analytical chemistry and his classes and lectures became legendary. Harris also served in a variety of posts that included chair of the Chemistry Department and President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Reviews. In 1998, Harris received the Order of Canada, one of many honours and accolades he received throughout his lifetime.
Harris contributed enormously to the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) over a period of four decades. He served as a Local Section chair, program chair of the national conference, tour speaker and CIC representative on national and international committees. He was also the CIC’s nominee on the Technical Advisory Committee to the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. on the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management Program.
Walter is survived by his daughter Margaret, son Bill, brother Jim and granddaughters Martha and Glenna. He is predeceased by his wife.
Donations can be made to U of A’s Walter and Phyllis Harris Graduate Chemistry Scholarship Fund.