Senate Tributes - "P"


The Senate records its deep sense of deprivation and loss in the death of Richard Clayton Palmer, whose career was on March 26th brought to an abrupt and untimely end. His connection with the University had been a long one; he was a member of the first class graduating in Agriculture and his academic rocord as an undergraduate gave promise of the achievement that was to come. As an alumnus he worked hard to promote the highest interests of the University and his love of learning was genuine and Drofound. He became, as Superintendent of the Experimental Station at Summerland, not only an authority on Horticulture but a friend and benefactor of all who sought him out with their own problems in the study and practice of that science. His public appearances were many: the practical wisdom mingled with sallies of wit in his addresses made him much sought after. The University, in recognition of his abilities and achievement, granted him in 1946 the first honorary doctorate to be bestowed on a Graduate from its Faculty of Agriculture. Since his death, the University has received at the hands of a group of his friends and associates, the Palmer Memorial Scholarship, established to assist university graduates to continue studies in Horticulture and related fields.

In the Senate his presence will be greatly missed; but there, as elsewhere, to quote from an address given in the final months of his life, he "leaves the path a little straighter, a little smoother, and a little more clearly marked for those she come after."


Gilbert Parfitt, the first department head appointed in the Faculty of Dentistry at this university, died on January 12, 1991.

Dr. Parfitt was born in Reading, England, in 1910, and was educated a Guy's Hospital in London, where he earned a dental licence in 1934 and medical degree in 1933. During World War II, he served as an Emergency Surgeon in the Maxillofacial base at East Grinstead, a famous site of the restoration of the faces of seriously wounded servicemen.

In 1947 he practised Preventive Dentistry at Guy's Dental Hospital, and became a pioneer in what was then a relatively new field.

After a four year term with the World Health Organization, Dr. Parfit enrolled in the University of Alabama, where he earned another doctoral degree and began teaching oral medicine, another area of study largely unknown at the time.

In 1963, Gilbert Parfitt accepted an appointment at U.B.C. in the fledgling Faculty of Dentistry and set up the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology. He served on the Senate from 1964 until 1969 and retired in 1974.

No better testimony to the career of this distinguished professor and teacher could be provided than that from one of his former students and later colleague. "He was a Post-Victorian man, a 'Brit', with a noble vision and a brain to match. He was devoted to knowledge and the betterment of the human's lot on this earth, with special respect to children. He was not a scientist, but a Naturalist, observing the human problems and seeking causes and effects, and deducing ideas of practical use."

The author of over fifty research publications, a member of a dozen professional societies, the recipient of fifteen academic awards, and the dedicated teacher of many hundreds of students, Gilbert Parfit embodied the best of university values.

To his surviving family, the Senate of this university extends its deepest sympathy.

JOHN E. A. PARNALL (1914-1992)

No organization as complex as The University of British Columbia could conduct its affairs efficiently without the assistance of competent and loyal support staff. leadership and dedication to one of the most essential elements of the univeristy structure, the Office of the Registrar. In innumerable ways he touched the lives of very student, every faculty member and every administrator in this university. He performed his duties conscientiously and efficiently, and always in a manner which earned him the respect of all who knew him or knew of him.

Jack Parnall was born in 1914, and educated in Victoria. He attended Victoria Colege and earned a B.A. from BC in 1935 and a B.Ed. One year later. After serving as meteorological officer in World War II, and completing an M.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Toronto, Mr. Parnall began a thirty year career as a teacher in the subject field he loved.

His teaching career included high schools in Abbotsford, Esquimalt and Victoria and as a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at this university. He was appointed Associate Registrar in 1951 and succeeded C. B. Wood as Registrar in 1957. He continued to teach mathematics until 1975, however, when he reluctantly surrendered to the demands of his office. His success as a teacher was widely known throughout the student body and could be measured by standing room only in his lectures.

Jack Parnall was a professional in every aspect of his work. He held offices in the Canadian Association of University Registrars, The Pacific Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, as well as numerous government advisory bodies. He represented the university at both the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Commonwealth Association of Universities. He also found time to serve the wider conununity as a member of the Board of the B.C. Yukon Division of CNIB.

But it was the way in which he carried out his duties as Registrar which earned Jack Pamall the esteem of the entire university community. He became the final and essential source of authority of all the policies and procedures that sustained the academic enterprise. No matter how complex the problem or how frustrating it was for the committee which was charged with solving it, Jack Parnall always found the answers. His diplomatic skills were famous and matched only by his patience and good humour.

No member of the university community knew more students, more faculty or more support staff. In every case his interest in their welfare was sincere and unreserved. It was written at the time of his retirement:

"If Jack were to leave only one reminder of his years at UBC, it would be his warm and human approach to everyday student problems. For this alone he will be remembered by countless grateful students and sometimes frustrated faculty."

It is appropriate that the Senate, a body to which he gave 22 years of wise and essential counsel, should record its appreciation of Jack Pamall at this meeting.


Modest Pernarowski, Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, died in his sleep June 10, 1976, at the age of 47.

Professor Pernarowski was born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. After receiving his undergraduate education at the University of Saskatchewan and Carlton University, he took two graduate degrees at Purdue University. He served in the Food and Drug Directorate of the Department of Health and Welfare, Ottawa, for eleven years before joining this Faculty in 1963. His scholarship, revealed by his books and his many contributions to learned journals, won for him the respect of his colleagues throughout this country and others; his advice was sought nationally and internationally. The quality of his work was recognized in 1967, when he was awarded the Canada Centennial Medal, and in 1973, when he was appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the American Pharmaceutical Association.

On the campus Professor Pernarowski participated in the life of the University as a whole and his conscientious labours on various committees won for him the respect of his colleagues from other Faculties as well as his own. He spoke for the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences on many occasions, in particular during the last year, when he sat as its representative on Senate. He will be missed by students and colleagues alike.

Professor Pernarowski is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter. To them the members of Senate, on behalf of the University, send their sympathy.

JOHN E. PHILLIPS (1934-2012)

Dr. John E. Phillips was born in Montreal in 1934, and spent his high school and university years in Nova Scotia. After earning his B.Sc. with first class honours in Biology and the University Medal for Science at Dalhousie University, Dr. Phillips obtained his M.Sc. in 1957. The National Research Council of Canada awarded him a Special Overseas Scholarship to complete his Ph.D. in Cellular and Comparative Physiology at Cambridge University, England.

On his return to Canada, Dr. Phillips became an Assistant Professor at Dalhousie, and in 1964, he joined UBC’s Zoology Department. From 1991 to 1996, he served as Department Head, and in 2000, became Professor emeritus. Under his leadership, Dr. Phillips’ group of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows from abroad, and prominent faculty visitors pioneered the field of epithelial transport mechanisms and their neuro-hormonal control, including renal function, which enables various arthropods to inhabit diverse extreme environments. He was also co-author of some 150 research papers, and sat on the editorial boards of 4 international scientific journals.

In recognition of his group’s life-long research contributions, Dr. Phillips received numerous honours, including election to the Royal Society of Canada, a Killam Senior Fellowship for sabbatical leave in Cambridge, a UBC Killam Research Prize, the Fry Medal from the Canadian Society of Zoologists for which he served as Secretary, Vice-President and President, and the James Chair at St. Francis Xavier University.

In addition to his many other contributions to UBC, Dr. Phillips represented the Faculty of Graduate Studies on the Senate from 1987 to 1990, and chaired many University-wide committees.

PAUL PLANT (1927-1991)

Of all the resources which sustain a great university, the support of its alumni is one of the most valuable. The University of British Columbia is fortunate in earning the loyalty of many dedicated graduates. Prominent among these was the late Paul Plant.

Mr. Plant was born in Toronto in 1927. He received his early education in Vancouver, and after graduating from Magee High School, enrolled in this university. he earned a B.A. degree in 1949. His years on campus were filled with activity. He was elected Treasurer of the Alma Mater Society and maintained a long and warm relationship with other members of the Student Council throughout his life. He also served faithfully as Manager of the 1948 Thunderbird Basketball Team, one of the most famous in the history of UBC athletics.

After graduation, Paul Plant began a successful business career in the lumber industry in British Columbia and Ontario. The high regard in which he was held by the industry culminated in his election as Lumberman of the Year by his professional association in 1987.

Mr. Plant was an untiring supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada. He served in numerous capacities, including a highly successful venture as co-chair for B.C. in the federal election of 1968. He was a passionate Canadian with a noble vision of his country which he never failed to share.

His deep relationship with the university also continued in a variety of ways, He served as President of the Alumni Association from 1960-62 and was elected as a representative to Senate from 1969 to 1975. As a member of this body he was elected to the Board of Governors, where he served for two terms between 1969 and 1974.

In the public arena, Mr. Plant undertook an extraordinary number of responsibilities. He was a director of the CBC from 1973-79, the Vancouver Port Corporation from 1982-84, and also as a member of the Board of the University Endowment Lands. He also accepted a term as President of the Greater Vancouver Family Services Association.

Paul Plant embodied all of the qualities which a university hopes to instill in its alumni. He was loyal, committed, ind unwavering in his support of his Alma Mater. His love for his country, his province and his community was evident in every facet of his life. He accepted the responsibilities of leadership with energy and competence. He was also a dedicated family man who rejoiced in the successes of his children. He loved life and lived it in a manner which earned him respect from all quarters of society.


In the death of Gerald Podersky-Cannon, the Senate and the University lost a devoted member and friend. Gerry graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1970 and a Master of Arts in 1979. As a representative of the Convocation, Gerry served on the Vancouver Senate from 1997 to 2002, returning in 2008.

He was active in his community and its political life as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and served on the board of the Kinesis Dance Troupe, the Canadian Club and the Canadian Council of Africa, among many other organizations. Gerry developed a world wide network of friends from experiences in England, the Yukon and Africa and from his varied business associations at Vancouver City Hall, Price Waterhouse Coopers, BC Hydro, Lightwave Medical Industries, Sterling Health Services, P2 Solar Energy Corporation and Canafra Minerals.

To his family, Gerry was a mentor, role model, man of inspiration and a loving husband and father. To his community, Gerry was a dedicated advocate and friend, serving on the board of several charities and non-profit organizations.

MARGARET E. PRANG (1921-2013)

Dr. Margaret Prang was born in Stratford, Ontario, and spent her childhood in Edmonton and Brantford. She attended the University of Manitoba, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1945, and went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Toronto. In 1959, she joined UBC’s History Department, where she quickly became a popular teacher. She served as department head from 1974-79, and again from 1982-83.

Though her early interest was in political and constitutional history, Dr. Prang’s attention turned increasingly to social and intellectual history, as indicated in numerous articles and reviews. Her book, N.W. Rowell: Ontario Nationalist , won the UBC medal for popular biography in 1975. Dr. Prang was President of The Canadian Historical Association in 1976-77, and a member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada from 1973 to 1979. With the late Walter Young, she founded, and for some years edited, the journal BC Studies.

A promoter of Arts I, Dr. Prang chaired the coordinating committee and taught in the program in its early years. She was also an active member of the wider university community, chairing the President’s Committee on the Norman McKenzie biography, and serving on the executive of the Faculty Association. Dr. Prang served as a joint faculties representative to Senate from 1975 to 1978. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from UBC in 1990.

Dr. Prang was deeply involved in community; the United Church of Canada and ecumenical committees, both locally and nationally; and she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. She enjoyed spending time in her two favourite places: Georgian Bay, Ontario, and Galiano Island, BC.

The Senate offers its deepest condolences to Dr. Prang’s family and friends.


Henry Leslie Purdy was born in Vancouver in 1901. He took his B.A. at the University of British Columbia in 1926 and his M.A. at the University of Washington in 1928. After a year's Instructorship at the latter university he joined the Department of Economics at Dartmouth where he eventually won his professorship, having completed his Ph.D. at Chicago in 1935.

His perceptive talents resulted in an invitation to Washington, where he spent the years 1941-1943 conducting special investigations for the government of the United States. In 1943 he become Assistant Director of Research for the Missouri Pacific Railroad at St. Louis, at the same time teaching in the evening division of St. Louis University.

It was in 1947 that he was persuaded to return home, to direct research for the B. C. Electric Company. In fact, he served in a number of capacities with such success that in 1961 he reached the Presidency. The change in the ownership of that company proved a boon to the University of British Columbia, for in 1961 Harry Purdy was able to return to academic life as a member of the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration. He had never abandoned his love of teaching and on this campus, where he remained until his retirement in 1971, he soon won universal respect from students and colleagues alike. Dr. Purdy had also been a member of the Department of Economics in the Faculty of Arts.

His quiet common-sense and his vast experience made him a valuable member in the counsels of his Faculty and in Senate, to which he was elected as a representative of the Alumni from 1958 to 1960.

He died October 21, 1974, leaving a widow and two sons, to whom the University extends its profound sympathy.

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