Gerald Toogood

Obituary of Gerald Edward Toogood

Gerald (Gerry) Edward Toogood passed away on November 30, 2020 in Kitchener, Ontario.


Gerald is survived by his daughter Anita in Calgary, sister Jean (Robert) Buckingham in England (nieces Nicola and Joanne), sister-in-law Doris in the USA (niece Kathy and nephews John and Tom) and cousins Sheila, Anne and Mary (Gray), Ann, Alan, Christine, Jim, Ted and Angela (Toogood) in England. He is preceded in death by his wife Patricia (Ely) Toogood, brother-in-law Charles Ely, parents Leslie and Edith (Jones), and cousins Richard & Vivien Kent.


Gerald was born in Frimley, England to Leslie and Edith (Jones) Toogood on April 9, 1938. He attended Farnham Grammar School (England) and graduated in 1956. He was the first person in the family to attend university and went on to earn a BSc (Hons) and subsequent PhD in Chemistry from the University of Nottingham in 1962.  After graduation, Gerald took a position at the Argonne National Labs in Chicago, USA. There he met and married Patricia. In 1964 the couple moved to Canada where Gerry joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Waterloo. Daughter Anita was born in 1970.  Gerald worked at UW until his retirement in 1996 but during this span was a visiting Professor/Fellow at Universities in Australia (Western Australia), England (Warwick, Durham), USA (Virginia, Ohio State) and Canada (Simon Frasier). From 1992-1998 he was Director of International Programmes for the Science Faculty of the University of Waterloo. Gerald earned fellowships to the Canadian Institute of Chemistry and Royal Society of Chemistry. He enjoyed travelling (especially driving to all parts of North America), reading, birdwatching, meals out with friends, creating cryptic puzzles, and sport (Football [Soccer]; Cricket; Ice Hockey).


A Memorial Visitation following current Provincial Covid guidelines will be held at the Erb and Good Funeral Home, 171 King Street S., Waterloo, on Monday, December 14, 2020 from 3pm-5:30pm. Due to COVID-19 restrictions all visitors to the funeral home must wear a personal face covering and RSVP to the funeral home by calling 519-745-8445.


In lieu of flowers, condolences to the family, or memorial donations to The Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation or Grand River Hospital may be arranged through the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King Street S. Waterloo at or 519-745-8445.






Remembering Gerald E. Toogood


By Lewis Brubacher, colleague and friend


Gerry Toogood died on November 30, 2020. He leaves a large hole in our lives.


When I came to the University of Waterloo in August 1969, it did not take long to get to know Gerry. We soon became good friends in the Chemistry Department, and in later years we worked together on several departmental projects.


Gerry was born and educated in England. He began his PhD with Norman Greenwood at the University of Nottingham, and finished at Newcastle University in 1962 after Professor Greenwood moved there in 1961. He then took up a two-year postdoctoral position at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, where he met and married Patricia in 1964. They moved to Canada that same year and Gerry joined the Chemistry Department at the then seven-year-old University of Waterloo. He retired in 1996, but continued in his role as Director of International Exchange Programs for the Faculty of Science until 1998.


At UW, Gerry occasionally collaborated with colleagues on their research projects. But mainly he taught inorganic chemistry courses and supervised the associated laboratory courses. One of the latter was organized as modules that could be worked on in random order. Gerry was well liked by his students. Jean Hein, who was a student at UW from 1988-1993, writes: “I remember Gerry really cared about his students and the quality of his courses. When he gave back a graded lab, it was notoriously covered in ‘red pen’. He gave us lots of feedback and I don’t think I appreciated how much time he put into grading our reports. For his inorganic lab, he was ahead of his time by having each lab report in a different format — a presentation, an interview, a submission to a journal, a formal lab report, etc. It was a really good learning experience.”


Gerry was involved in many outreach activities for the Chemistry Department. He taught one of the Saturday courses for high school teachers. These courses were offered during the 1960s mainly for teachers seeking to upgrade their credentials, especially in chemistry and physics. Gerry also taught an early course by Distance Education, now known as Extended Learning.


One of his major contributions to outreach was organizing Chem Lab Day. This was entirely Gerry’s baby. Over ten years, from 1985 to 1994, Gerry organized an opportunity for a teacher and two of their brighter students from each of 15-24 local high schools to attend our Chemistry Department on a Saturday in April and carry out three high level experiments. Most of these were hands-on, under the supervision of chemistry faculty members, using instruments well beyond a high school chemistry lab. In addition, over lunch, one of the chemistry faculty members gave a lecture on their research work. These opportunities were well received by those who attended, some of whom drove more than two hours to be at the sessions.


Gerry was a key member of the organizing committees of two chemical education conferences held at UW: the 10th International Conference on Chemical Education in 1989, chaired by Peter Chieh, and the American Chemical Society’s Biennial Conference on Chemical Education in 1998, chaired by Reg Friesen Together, the two conferences brought nearly 2,000 chemistry educators to Waterloo from around the globe. In the BCCE conference planning committee, Gerry played an increasingly important role as Reg Friesen experienced declining health. Gerry’s uncanny ability to anticipate problems and his insistence on attention to detail were key to the success of both conferences.


Finally, Gerry contributed articles and puzzles to Chem 13 News, a magazine published by the Chemistry Department for teachers of introductory chemistry, from 1968 to 2019. Most notable were his 50 Molecule of the Month articles and an astounding 130 crostic puzzles. Through the magazine, which went to all parts of the globe, and through his travels to Chem Ed conferences, Gerry acquired a wide audience of friends and admirers.


After his retirement Gerry travelled widely, sometimes with Patricia, sometimes alone since Patricia did not like to fly. He especially enjoyed visiting daughter Anita, whether she was in England or Calgary. As Patricia’s health declined Gerry had to limit his absences from home, but after she died in 2014 he was free to roam once again.


He loved exploring new terrain, and bird watching. A few emails from my computer illustrate this:

From July 7, 2016:  Since the last week of March I have been travelling most of the time — 4 weeks in UK, Sicily and Malta; 3 weeks in Spain and UK, followed by 3 driving to/from Calgary plus time with Anita. We are off to the Arctic on Sunday for 2 weeks. I will settle down later----maybe.  Gerry


From May 3, 2017:  I leave with Lynn for the Baltic countries and Russia on the 13th and return on the 31st. Much of June & July I am on an Adventure Canada trip, followed by Scandinavia in August. I went “owling” in Manitoba in March, and have just spent a week in Arizona with Anita. My neighbours wonder if I still live in my house !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me know what works for you. I can do lunch or just coffee — where??  Gerry


And another one dated September 19, 2019:  I am off to Ireland tomorrow, but only for 8 days. Can we meet early in October? Let me know a time that suits you for our chat.  Gerry


Scott Nicoll, who worked in the Chemistry Department for nearly two decades before rising upwards in the UW system sent me these pertinent comments: “To me Gerry is a part of the foundation story of Waterloo. His stories wove in and out of my own UW history. They created a feeling that UW’s foundational generation, within and outside of my immediate circle, was filled with good, unique, creative and sometimes hilarious people [such as Gerry]. I am sorry I will not hear him tell those stories again. I don’t want to tell stories — I want to hear him tell them!”


Gerry read widely. I would guess that he read two or more books every week in his retirement years when he was not travelling. He would buy a book, read it, maybe extract a quotation to use in a crostic, and then give the book away. He loved playing with words. He was great with anagrams. He loved history, nature, science, birds, and was always seeking new challenges. He was an extrovert, yet a very private person. Above all, he was a good friend and story-teller.


I will miss him greatly — we will all miss him.





From Norma Walker—life-long Friend

 I am including Alan – (who passed away in October 2019) in this “Gerry story”, because our lives have been connected since they met at Nottingham University. After our marriage in 1962, we began our world-wide travels in 1963 by following Gerry to Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, where we rented houses with back-to-back gardens in Downers Grove. In 1964 we moved to a farm property, where we hosted several ‘Brits’ who converged from around the States for Pat and Gerry’s wedding, at which Alan was best man and Norma was in charge of the guestbook, which included –

Prof Norman Greenwood – UK

Dr. Peter and Jennifer Johnson and baby Carol- Gerry’s God-daughter- Urbana Illinois

Dr. David and Ann Archer—Ames Iowa

Dr. Alan and Judy Storr— New York

 Needless to say, it was a Memorable Event, celebrated in true” British- pub- style’’

 Still following in Gerry’s footsteps, we moved to Canada in 1965, where Alan became a Chemistry Prof at U of Toronto, Scarborough Campus. During the busy years of raising our families we made numerous visits between Waterloo and Scarborough (whenever we could find a free date around our collective travels)

It has been since our retirement that even closer connections were made. Various members of Gerry’s family have been on a boat tour around White Lake, near Peterborough, where our cottage became our permanent home in 1998. In addition to the ‘’ Remember when ….” and the merits of numerous sports teams, Alan was particularly obsessed with the cryptic crosswords Gerry created, while Norma shared Pat’s love of photography and crafting, as well as Gerry’s on-going recommendations for the ‘latest GOOD book’.

  Our family was fortunate to travel around the world in 1976/7 when Alan took a sabbatical at U of Auckland NZ. We have toured throughout England and have been snowbirds in Tucson AZ and Victoria BC. During these journeys, we have been able to connect with several of Gerry’s family and friends from “the old days – across the pond’’

   Since following Gerry all those years ago, our lives have been changed and enriched by so many people, places and events for which we will always be grateful.

 In closing--- a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson –

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world and the best we can find in our travels is and honest friend’’

 Thankyou Gerry, for being that friend.

 Safe travels on the next stage of your Journey

 Your life-long friends--   Norma –( and Alan ) Walker





My Good Friend Gerry Toogood

by Derek Sutton


I have known Gerry for sixty years, but I’ve only really got to know him well in the past thirty.

We go back to having met in 1960 when I began my PhD research in Inorganic Chemistry at Nottingham with C. C. Addison. Gerry was already embarked on his with N. N. Greenwood in the same department.

Gerry was part of a group of us chemists who would go rock climbing on the weekend to the cliffs and edges in Derbyshire – Froggatt Edge, Stanage Edge etc. He was good; I was just learning and along for the fun. Climbing gets in the bones, and one is always looking for somewhere to try. But it shouldn’t be in the department corridors. That’s when the head of the department caught Gerry, myself, and a couple of others having climbed on the radiator and attempting the traverse of the wall hanging from the wooden rail above. How we were read the riot act!

Even at that time Gerry showed his penchant for the puns and wit that all of us since have known him well for. He was in some way involved in the student union in advertising upcoming shows. I remember coming into the department one morning to see that he had advertised “Gunfight at the OK Corral” by means of a “Wanted” advert stuck on the door with a big knife, Doc Holliday fashion. And there was the time that he advertised a performance of Semiramide as Semi-(R) Amide to us chemists in witty chemical nomenclature.

Of course, Gerry was single in those days. He earned a reputation as a bit of a ladies’ man, and he always had that twinkle in his eye and disarming grin whenever the conversation got to discussing conquests. But the fact that he never revealed any of his just added to the close, secretive, aura he cultivated. My wife Kathy loved the company of Gerry. She loved his wit and charm and that he made her feel that she was the only person in the room. She said he could charm the birds out of the trees – a good talent to have if you are a birder, as he was!

After he moved to UW and I joined SFU in the late sixties we would meet infrequently at the odd conference, and I remember a fun evening when a large group of us Nottingham ex-pats including Gerry, Alan Walker and myself gathered at a restaurant while at a conference in Toronto years ago.

It was in 1992 that Gerry kindly offered to spend a sabbatical leave with my group at SFU. As expected he made an instant hit with my grad students and post-docs with his friendly, disarming nature and his invaluable advice and mentoring. And Gerry equally was someone my department colleagues warmed to and would engage with in all kinds of tea-room chatter, whether chemical or not, largely because of his endless fund of anecdotes and encyclopaedic knowledge. That’s what comes of being as approachable and as widely read as he was. I couldn’t help but notice that on his desk there was invariably a completed or partly completed cryptic crossword, one of his passions.

It was then that I came to know Gerry so much better. Although I had not known it beforehand, it turned out that we shared a mutual interest in birding and his wife Patricia shared with Kathy and me a penchant for photography. We had many outings together to local birding and photographic hot spots around Vancouver, and we were able to give them advice on places to visit and explore while they were in BC. Since that time we have kept in close touch, and shared many experiences of our travels and lives. We have been fortunate to have him and some of his relatives stay with us on several visits to Vancouver after he lost Patricia. The one most recently was the year before last when he stayed before embarking on driving alone to the Klondike in Yukon, and then 750km on the Dempster Highway from Dawson City to Inuvik, in order to fulfil yet one more dream on his large bucket list. I shall treasure the joy of seeing Gerry then, not realizing that would be our last time together.

Of course, both being from the London area, and proper football (ie., soccer to you colonials) fans we each supported a team. In this there was a friendly rivalry. He supported Spurs, and I Arsenal. We would love to have digs at each other over their performances. In one memorable email to me, after I had pointed out that Spurs were having a bittersweet season, he responded: “They are like the little girl who had a little curl” If you don’t know the rest of the nursery rhyme, look it up.

To me that sums up Gerry. Widely read, articulate, witty and irrepressible.

Goodbye dear friend, and godspeed. You are sorely missed.

Derek Sutton




Written by Doris Ely, sister-in-law


Gerald E. Toogood joined our family when he married my husband’s sister, Patricia Ely in August of 1964.  Their daughter, Anita, was born in August of 1970.


Through the years “Uncle Gerry” introduced us to family members from England. First were his parents, Edith and Leslie, then sister Jean and husband Bob, and cousin Ann Gray. Later visitors were Vivien and Richard Kent from England, the Neuhausers from Perth, West Australia, Rudy Thomas from Tasmania.  All delightful people.


Gerry and Pat traveled to many interesting places during their marriage. Gerry was a chemist. In 1964 this profession took him to the University of Waterloo, Ontario, where he joined the Chemistry Department. He was a visiting Professor/Fellow at Universities in Australia, England, U.S.A., and Canada. After Pat died, Gerry continued to travel with birding expeditions and on his own to places he found interesting.


Gerry had a wonderful, dry sense of humor. He and I had many phone conversations regarding books, birds, many things, but always teasing and joking.


My family and I are so glad we got to know this delightful man. We will miss him.


Doris Ely, sister-in-law.


Memorial Visitation

3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Monday, December 14, 2020
Erb & Good Family Funeral Home
171 King Street South
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Due to COVID-19 restrictions all visitors to the funeral home must wear a personal face covering and RSVP to the funeral home by calling 519-745-8445.
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