Dr. Paul Karrow

Obituary of Dr. Paul Frederick Karrow

Dr. Paul Frederick Karrow


Everything has a history

Future time seems long, past time seems short

                                                  (author unknown)


Died peacefully on February 5, 2023 surrounded by family at Wellington Terrace Long Term Care home in Fergus at 93 years of age.  Born in St. Thomas, Ontario on September 14th, 1930. As the only child of an RCMP family, he moved frequently, residing in Port Stanley, St. Thomas, Amherstburg, Sarnia, Toronto, Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, Ottawa and Toronto. He earned a BSc at Queens University in 1954, and in 1957, a PhD in Geology at the University of Illinois. While working in Toronto in late 1950s for the Geological Survey of Canada, Paul met Elizabeth (Beth) Joan McCormick who was working at the Royal Ontario Museum at the time. On Sept. 8th 1962, Paul and Beth were married and they took up residence in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, after Paul secured a faculty position at the University of Waterloo. Paul was widely known for his contribution to the field of geological sciences and was most recognized for mapping the great lakes area (45 years to complete the mapping of Southwestern Ontario at the going rate of one sheet a year). Paul was an author and co-author of several hundreds of publications in his field, and he spent the majority of his 53-year career at the University of Waterloo in the Earth Sciences Department. He was the first chair of the department and received many recognitions and distinctions throughout his career. In 2001, Paul was awarded a Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Paul was also active in the community. He volunteered his time and expertise with the K-W Historical Society serving a term as president, and was an active member of the K-W Field Naturalists for many years. In his spare time, he was an avid model railroad hobbyist and could be found writing notes and photographing the designs of train cars along the Ontario train tracks. He was a gentle and quiet person who valued cycling and walking. Paul faithfully walked or cycled to and from work every day, regardless of the weather well into his late eighties.


Paul was predeceased by his parents Rhinehart Frederick and Bertha Elzina Karrow (nee Bilton), and his wife Beth. He is survived by his four children: Douglas David and daughter-in-law Beth (nee Van Wagner) and their four children (Stuart Benjamin, Heather Lyndsay, Meghan Sara, and Patrick Wayne), Niel Alexander and daughter-in-law Yan Hua Zhu and his two children (Kaitlyn Emily Jordan and Sarah Grace Madison), Sheila Elizabeth and her two children (Catherine Elizabeth and Andrew Edwin Garrett), and Thomas Paul (Tom) and his partner Staci. Paul’s children have fond memories of their red station-wagon road trips across western Canada and the American south-west, fossil hunting, and visits to bakeries across Southern Ontario. He also had a soft spot for ice cream at local dairies once commonly dotting the landscape of Ontario’s small towns and villages. One of his favourites was Farquhar’s Dairy on Manitoulin Island where he could be found after a warm summer’s day enjoying a double scooped strawberry and butter pecan cone.


In his last few years Paul faced many challenges after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and life-long Marfan’s syndrome, yet remained reflective, upbeat, determined and persevering. His family wishes to thank the staff at the Wellington Terrace for the comfort, safety, and loving support offered to him in his final days, despite the extraordinary challenges faced by all during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also with deep gratitude that he was supported by his granddaughter Heather Karrow who works at the Wellington Terrace and grounded him with family love and presence during his failing health.


There will not be a funeral service or reception at the request of the deceased. A small family internment will take place at Parkview Cemetery, Waterloo, Ontario. To view the Grand River Conservation Tribute video or make a donation to the Red Cross, please visit www.erbgood.com.


In loving memory of Paul, a tree will be planted at the University of Waterloo campus.

Grand River Conservation Tribute: Please CLICK HERE

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