Passings: Allan G. Sangster

York University Professor Emeritus of natural science Allan Sangster died on Sept. 6 after a battle with cancer.

He was a beloved teacher and colleague, whose university career was entirely at Glendon Campus where he taught courses in the Environmental and Health Studies program from 1968-96. When he retired, he continued teaching part-time until 1999.

Allan Sangster

Allan Sangster

He was the loving husband of Mya Moelwyn-Hughes for 53 years and the cherished father of Huw Sangster, Rebecca Sangster and Andrew Sangster (Nameera Chagpar), and a wonderful grandfather to his two granddaughters, Nylah and Ariya (Nameera and Andrew).

Educated in Toronto, Sangster received his bachelor’s degree (Honours) in biology from the University of Toronto in 1950. He first worked for Colgate Palmolive Peet Ltd. and later with the Federal Food and Drugs Department. He switched to education in 1952, when he became head of science at Central College in Oshawa, Ont. He stayed there until 1956, when he moved to Burnhamthorpe Collegiate in Etobicoke, Ont., where he stayed until 1968.

Given a leave of absence, he earned a PhD in agricultural botany from the University of Wales (Bangor) in 1967, and in 1968 he joined York University in the science program at Glendon Campus.

Sangster attached considerable importance to scientific research, maintaining an ongoing research program in collaboration with colleagues at York and other institutions. His research was on agricultural plants, cancer research and palynology. He focused on the utilization of minerals in plant tissues, especially on the uptake and use of silicon by cereals. Other topics included paleobotany and the fossilization process of plant structures such as phytoliths, which are used in the interpretation of paleoclimates and the early history of agriculture. These studies resulted in the publication of more than 50 scientific papers and book chapters.

Sangster was a devoted family man, spending his summers at the family cottage on the shores of Lake Huron in Southampton, Ont. He enjoyed nature hiking in summer and skiing in winter. With his wife, Mya, he travelled through Canada and the U.K., and during his retirement years he also went on cruises to other parts of the world. He was a gentle, soft-spoken person and he was also a superb golfer who won the annual York University Golf Tournament many times. He enjoyed discussing current affairs with colleagues and often came to the Glendon Senior Common Room for lunch after he retired. He was always ready to help those who sought his assistance, and he was a consummate professional when it came to research and teaching.

Submitted by Stanislav J. Kirschbaum, professor, Glendon Campus

For more York University news, photos and videos, visit the YFile homepage