Roger Macqueen

Obituary of Roger Webb Macqueen

November 5, 1935 – Toronto, Ontario

January 30, 2024 – Calgary, Alberta

 

Roger Webb Macqueen, age 88, of Calgary, AB, passed away peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at Foothills Medical Centre surrounded by his wife, children, and daughter-in-law Sarah. His death came after a short hospitalization for a recently diagnosed neurocognitive disorder.

 

Roger was born on November 5, 1935, in Toronto, ON. He was predeceased by parents, Walter and Pearl; and is survived by wife Marjorie, sister Anne McKenna, children, Robin (Diane), Fleur (Jeff), Alexandra (Warren) and Ian (Sarah); their ten grandchildren, Brinnameade, Merridew, Alexander, Rigel, Lark, Jared, Wolfgang, Froggo, Liam, and Quin; and great-granddaughter Sloane.

 

In the fall of 1955, a chance meeting with Marjorie Chepesuik, an eager second-year Dalhousie transfer student, during registration for the fall term at the University of Toronto led to an instant and unfailing love affair that lasted from that day forward through their 64 years of marriage. The scientific community owes a debt of gratitude to Marjorie, who insisted that Roger focus on his studies if he wanted to spend time with her, as it was her intention to do the same.

 

With his new focus on academics, Roger realized that he loved the pursuit of science, choosing geology mainly due to his childhood interest in rock collecting and his exposure to the Precambrian Shield at the family cottage on Long Lake (which he built with his dad from 1953 to 1955) in what is now part of Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park.

 

After exhausting his patience and his mind, Roger left the University of Toronto with undergraduate (1957) and masters (1960) degrees in geology, thinking that his academic studies were complete. Roger and Marjorie, by then pregnant with Robin, embarked on a journey by boat from Halifax, NS, to Liverpool, England in July 1960, travelling around the U.K. and continental Europe and eventually on to London in October where Roger would be employed by V.C. Illing and Associates in their petroleum geology consulting practice.

 

Roger’s favourite assignment—and a source of numerous stories over his lifetime—was a field trip to study modern carbonate sediments around Qatar in the Persian Gulf in spring 1961. He often talked of the two weeks he spent returning from Qatar to London by way of the Giza pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, Beirut in Lebanon, and the Acropolis and Parthenon in Greece.

 

Roger was so taken by his research colleagues at V.C. Illing and Associates that he knew he must continue his studies. He applied and was accepted to PhD programs at the U of A, UBC, Yale, and Princeton. In September 1962 the family, now including Robin (born in London in February 1961), packed up and moved to Princeton, New Jersey where Roger would spend time learning amongst great minds, summering in the Canadian Rockies in 1963 and 1964 while working on his PhD research, and creating lasting friendships. In early June 1965 with PhD in hand, Roger began permanent employment as a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in Calgary.

 

The family grew to six, with daughters Fleur arriving in October 1965, Alexandra in December 1967, and son Ian in September 1969. After a short stint on leave from the GSC as a faculty member at U of T’s Erindale College in 1971, Roger and the family later relocated from Calgary to Waterloo, ON, where he joined the University of Waterloo’s Department of Earth Sciences as an Associate Professor in July 1976.

 

At Waterloo, Roger spent nine years “working his butt off” teaching courses, advising graduate students, sitting on boards, conducting research, and publishing academic papers. He particularly valued the teaching aspect of his job and strove to provide top-notch lectures and other opportunities for students to learn. Many of his students headed to the thriving oil industry in Alberta with fond memories of Dr. Macqueen.

 

In 1985, Roger, Marjorie and youngest son Ian moved back to Calgary, and Roger returned to the GSC until his retirement in 1996. Post-retirement, Roger maintained his GSC office, focusing on editing technical journals and publications and serving as editor of Geoscience Canada (1996 to 2001) for another 26 years as an emeritus scientist, finally departing for good in October 2022.

 

Roger valued family and education and delighted in the achievements of his children and grandchildren. He appreciated the beauty of nature, and encouraged this in his young family, taking his children hiking, camping, and canoeing in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. He also loved music, particularly baroque and Mozart but also the Beatles, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Alan Price, Gordon Lightfoot, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, and many other greats. His children vividly remember Roger lying on the living room floor after supper with eyes closed and stereo turned up loud to escape the rigours of academic and family life.

 

Roger was also fascinated with current events, read widely, and never went anywhere without a portable radio to listen to his beloved CBC. He devoured newspapers and, despite his many commitments, rarely missed a single edition.

 

Ancestry was a passion. He explored his lineage the old-fashioned way—through travel, family connections, and reunions. He lived through WWII as a child and spent the rest of his life amassing an extensive library of reference books but was still never able to understand how people could be so cruel to each other. Mostly due to an ancestral connection, the history of the American Civil War became another pastime.

 

Because he remembered the love he had for his own grandfather, once grandchildren came along, he vowed to make the job his top priority. He boasted often of his ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He took them to playgrounds wherever he was, contributed to their education funds, and travelled with them as they grew into adults. The arrival of son Ian’s twin boys Liam and Quin and granddaughter Brinna’s first child Sloane in 2021 were special joys.

 

Some will remember Roger as an accomplished scientist with numerous publications to his name, but all who knew him will remember him as a warm and kind-hearted man with an unending commitment to mentoring and teaching. He had a phenomenal memory for people and dates and was incredibly well-read. As one friend put it, “he was a treat to sit beside at a dinner party.” We’ll all miss him, but he taught us many lessons on what a good person and parent should be—and we know he loved to teach.

 

We are thankful that Roger was able to enjoy a quiet life up until Christmas 2023, spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter. He cherished every day and was grateful to have lived a very fulfilling life.

 

The family would like to thank Roger’s family physician, Dr. Farhan Khan for his care of Roger over the last few years. We would also like to thank the staff at Foothills Medical Centre for their kind and compassionate care, particularly those on Unit 72 and Unit 41A, and especially Roger’s attending physician, Dr. Catherine McKenna. Originally a geologist by training (more correctly a self-proclaimed “isotopist”), she helped our family understand the fragility of a brain compromised by dementia and a humane means of retiring a brilliant mind.

 

Funeral Services will be held at Varsity Acres Presbyterian Church (4612 Varsity Drive N.W., Calgary, AB) on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. Family and friends who are unable to attend in person are invited to join Dr. Macqueen’s service streamed live on the Varsity Acres Presbyterian Church YouTube Channel on the day of the service.

 

A Celebration of Roger’s Life will be held at the Hearth Room at Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Association (1320 5th Avenue N.W., Calgary, AB) on Saturday, May 11, 2024, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please email RogerWMmemorial@gmail.com for details and to RSVP.

 

In Roger’s honour, donations may be made directly to Plan International Canada, 245 Eglinton Ave East, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M4P 0B3, Telephone: 1-800-387-1418, https://plancanada.ca/en-ca/donate or to another charity of your choosing.

 

To delve deeper into the life of Roger Macqueen, please visit RWM Memoirs – this will definitely not be on the exam ;)

 

Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed with Roger’s family here.

 

In living memory of Roger Macqueen, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Crowfoot, 82 Crowfoot Circle NW, Calgary, AB T3G 2T3, Telephone: 403-241-0044.



Saturday
17
February

Funeral Service

3:00 pm
Saturday, February 17, 2024
Varsity Acres Presbyterian Church
4612 Varsity Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
403-288-0544
Saturday
11
May

Celebration of Life

1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Saturday, May 11, 2024
Hearth Room at Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Association
1320 5th Avenue NW,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
(403) 283-0554
Email RogerWMmemorial@gmail.com to RSVP
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