Celebration of Life for Donald Sprung April 15th
A Celebration of Life for Donald Sprung will be held at Alumni Memorial Hall on April 15th from 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Donald, who served as Dean of the Faculty of Science from 1975 to 1984 and Chair of the Physics Department from 1991 to 1997, passed away on March 7th in his 89th year.
Donald (also known as Don) was born on June 6, 1934 in Kitchener, Ontario, the oldest of six children to Lyall and Doreene Sprung. Don is predeceased by his parents, brothers David, Ralph and Peter, sister Elizabeth Christner, sisters-in-law Kiyoko Fujimoto and Fumiko Marubashi, and brothers-in-law Susumo Nagai and Henry Isao Nagai. Left to mourn his passing are his wife Hannah, daughter Anne Sprung (Doug MacCallum) and their daughter Kate Sprung (Chris Delaney) and son Connor MacCallum, daughter Carol Coatham (Ken) and their sons Kain and Nolyn, sister Margaret Colmer (Larry) and brother Michael, sisters-in-law Audrey McNeely (John), Dee Sprung and Ruth Sato, brother-in-law David Christner, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Don grew up in Kitchener, where he attended Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate. He then obtained a BA degree in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Toronto, winning the Lieutenant-Governor’s Silver Medal for the best B.A. degree in Victoria College. Don and Hannah met at the University of Toronto and were married on December 12, 1958 in Birmingham, England, where he was continuing his studies at the University of Birmingham. Daughter Anne was born in Birmingham in November 1959.
Following completion of his PhD in Mathematical Physics with Gerald Brown and Sir Rudolf Peierls, they returned to North America in 1961 where Don completed a postdoctoral year at Cornell with Hans A. Bethe. He then joined the McMaster University faculty in 1962. Second child Carol was born in Hamilton in September 1963.
Research leaves took Don to M.I.T. in 1964-5, Orsay in 1969-70, Tuebingen in 1980-81, Japan, China and Australia in 1985-6, Mainz in 1990 and Barcelona in 1991.
Don served as Dean of the Faculty of Science from 1975-84, and Chair of the Physics Department from 1991-7.
In 1997 he was awarded a Doctor of Science degree from the University of Birmingham based on his extensive publications in the field of nuclear structure theory. Notable honours include the Herzberg Medal of the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) in 1972, Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada in 1980, and the CAP Gold Medal for Achievement in Physics, in 1997. In addition he was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics (London).
Donald made a significant contribution to numerous areas of Physics, starting with Nuclear Physics before working in Bohmian Quantum Mechanics, and then shifting his interests toward Solid State Physics and Photonic Crystals. He was a truly encyclopaedic physicist, and had an outstanding international reputation. His publications include almost 250 articles, many of which were cited more than 100 times.
Donald was also widely regarded as an excellent teacher, who was always willing to dedicate time and energy to his students, even when he was incredibly busy with his other responsibilities. He was patient and attentive as a mentor and gave some of the most memorable lectures his students ever attended.
Donald also took great pride in promoting his research associates and his students. Many of them are following successful careers in academia, while others have moved into industry and financial analysis.
He will be deeply missed by his friends, colleagues, and students, and by the world scientific community. Don’s keen intelligence and determination was obvious in everything he undertook. He could do anything he set his mind to, including becoming a track and field champion in high school and completing a course in woodworking in order to build many of the cabinets and bookcases in the family home in Dundas. Don’s passion was his scientific research, often pursued in the evenings and on the weekends due to his busy administrative duties at the university.
After he retired in 1997 he continued his research and teaching at McMaster University as Professor Emeritus. He was also active in the community, serving as a member and as Chair of the McMaster Community Homes board for many years. Don enjoyed being a general handyman, fixing and renovating not only the family home, but also his daughters’ homes! In addition he was fond of bargain-hunting at garage sales, and often gifted his children and grandchildren with his finds.
Donald’s Celebration of Life will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person. For messages or further information, contact email@example.com. If so inclined, donations may be made to Parkinson Canada or the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. Condolences, memories and photos may be left at www.circleoflifecbc.comIn Memoriam