Passings: William Westfall

A field of flowers at sunset

York University Professor William (Bill) Westfall, a member of Atkinson College and the Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies since 1977, passed away peacefully on Aug. 18.

Westfall was a passionate supporter of Canadian studies at York and served for many years as the co-ordinator of the Canadian Studies program. The William Westfall Canadian Studies Prize was created to honour Professor Westfall’s commitment to the program, and his ongoing contributions to the field. Following his retirement in 2012 as a senior scholar, he continued his active engagement with York, most recently teaching in the graduate program in history.

Westfall won several awards for his books on the impact of Protestant clergy, institutions and beliefs on Ontario’s development. He was a beloved professor and an important social presence in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood. He will be missed by his colleagues, family and friends.

Colleagues and friends are invited to share memories and condolences in his online obituary.

Passings: William Frisken

Candle light vigil memorial passing

William Frisken, a professor emeritus in York University’s Faculty of Science, passed away at the age of 90 on Aug. 8, after a major stroke.

Frisken, beloved husband, father, grandfather and colleague, was born in Hamilton, Ont., in 1933, and embarked on a life as an experimental high-energy particle physicist, environmental writer and researcher, university professor, amateur musician, maker of fine cherry bookshelves, home handyman and more.

William Frisken
William Frisken

Frisken began his career path towards becoming a prestigious particle physicist when he enrolled at Queen’s University in engineering physics in 1951, graduating in 1956. Shortly after, he worked for the Canadian General Electric Company on the prototype of the CANDU reactor, a heavy-water nuclear reactor used to generate electric power, before returning to Queen’s to work on a master’s degree, which he did by building an apparatus using two scintillation counters to study the angular correlation of nuclear gamma rays.

A graduate scholarship took him to Birmingham, England in the fall of 1957, where he and several colleagues built a bubble chamber (a recently designed piece of experimental equipment) and a “scattering table” using scintillation counters to study the mesons created by proton-proton scattering. After receiving his PhD in the summer of 1960, he and his wife, Frances Frisken, travelled back to Canada where he spent four years teaching physics at McGill University.

Next, Frisken moved to Long Island, N.Y., to work as an associate scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, then Cleveland, where he was appointed associate professor at Case Institute of Technology (soon to be amalgamated with Western Reserve University). During these years, he collaborated with physicists from several American universities on experiments that involved scattering short-lived elementary particles like pions and kaons from protons. The aim of these experiments was to help build a better understanding of the fundamental structure of the proton.

Upon returning to Canada again in 1971, Frisken was hired as a professor of physics at York University and went on to join the Institute of Particle Physics (IPP) to promote collaboration in particle physics research among Canadian universities. He became heavily involved in an IPP proposal to build a circular accelerator in which to collide high-energy electrons and protons. While the IPP first planned to develop this collider at the Fermilab in Chicago, the proposal eventually came to fruition as the Hadron-Electron Ring Accelerator (HERA) at the Deutsches Electronen-Synchrotron laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, making Frisken a key player in Canada becoming the first country in the world to support and contribute to HERA.

The IPP was also a major collaborator in the ZEUS experiment, carried out in the HERA collider, which began operation in 1995 and collected data until 2007. He was well known internationally by then for his expertise in designing and constructing unique particle detectors. For ZEUS, he spearheaded the development of a huge laboratory in Markham, Ont., where he and colleagues from McGill and the University of Toronto designed and built several tonnes of specialized calorimeters to measure the energies of particles scattered from HERA electron-proton collisions. These experiments contributed enormously to the understanding of the internal quark and gluon structure of the proton.

Frisken retired from York University in 1996 alongside his wife, Frances, a York professor emerita, who had been at the University as long as he had.

Frisken continued to pursue more physics after he retired, investigating superconducting radio frequency accelerator cavities, and gave his last scientific presentation in 2005. Many undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows benefited from Frisken’s knowledge, and all of his colleagues greatly enjoyed the infectious wit with which he communicated his ideas. He is remembered by former colleagues as the designer and builder of state-of-the-art scientific equipment used to conduct experiments at the forefront of the field of elementary particle physics. He subscribed to the idea that “if you can buy the equipment you need for the experiment you plan, someone has probably already done it.”

Frisken wrote a biography of his life in physics, which can be found for free here:

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Frisken’s memory to the Bruce Trail Conservancy or a charity of your choice.

Passings: Professor Lal Samarasekera

A field of flowers at sunset

Lal Samarasekera, a professor in the Civil Engineering Department at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, passed away unexpectedly on July 30.

Samarasekera, a beloved brother, uncle and friend, passed away in Toronto, Ont. at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital.

Lal Samarasekera

Samarasekera was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. As a young student, he worked to become an exceptional academic, granting him the opportunity to access multiple scholarships to further his academic career. Samarasekera was passionate about providing similar opportunities to other Sri Lankan students through his dedicated work for the Sri Lanka – Canada Scholarship Foundation where he was the president. He was also involved with UNICEF and a number of other charities.

Samarasekera received his MSc at the University of British Columbia and earned his PhD from the University of Alberta, where he used numerical modelling to analyze the behaviour of tunnels and other excavations. Following his graduate research, he worked as a researcher and instructor for over 20 years and then joined the industry.

Prior to joining York University, Samarasekera worked as a consultant for SNC Lavalin, Golder Associates, and lectured at University of Saskatchewan. His primary interest was the use of technology in engineering education, including web-based teaching and learning. His area of specialization was in geotechnical engineering.

Samarasekera was wholeheartedly committed to his students and his work. All those who had the privilege of knowing him and calling him friend, colleague or professor can attest to his gentle, caring, and thoughtful nature. Samarasekera was also deeply involved in his community, highly regarded and trusted by those around him. His positive impact extended far and wide within and beyond the Lassonde and York University community.

A funeral for Samarasekera was held on Aug. 8. His family would like to ask that any donations be made to a favourite charity of your choice, Venerable Katukurunde Nanananda Memorial Fund or the Sri Lanka – Canada Scholarship Foundation.

Passings: Paul Wye

Candles burning in the dark

Paul Wye, Osgoode Professional Development’s manager of information technology and innovation, passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 4 in Sudbury, Ont., after suffering a severe anaphylactic reaction.

Paul Wye
Paul Wye

Wye is survived by his wife, Ruthann Drummond, and their three young sons: Quinn, Davin and Ashton. A family man who poured his heart and soul into loving and caring for those around him, he is survived by his parents, Lockie and Judi Wye; his sister, Lindsay (Ben); his parents-in-law, Ruth Ranson and Ross Drummond; his brother-in-law, Andrew (Sara); and his nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. He will be missed by countless friends, coworkers and neighbours.

Wye worked at York University’s Osgoode Professional Development for 20 years, starting in a student role and working his way up to a management position. He was a loyal and devoted employee and coworker, as evidenced by his recent peer-nominated 2020 Louella Sturdy Leadership Award win for his outstanding contributions to the Osgoode community. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic made online course delivery essential, Wye was heavily involved in bringing cutting-edge learning technology to the University.

A celebration of Wye’s life will be held on Friday, Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, with a small reception to follow. The family asks that attendees wear bright colours and bring a favourite memory of Wye. Those who cannot attend are encouraged to share their memories by emailing

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the GoFundMe page that has been established to support his family.

Passings: Howard Adelman

A field of flowers at sunset

Howard Adelman, who passed away July 23, was a York University professor, associate dean and Senate Chair, as well as the founder and former director of the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS).

Howard Adelman

Adelman was a philosopher and scholar of contemporary Canadian and global issues, an activist academic driving change in public policy, and a cultural and political commentator providing valuable and informed insights across cultures and nationsHis distinguished career spanned more than half a century and his work as an academic, author and advisor furthered multiculturalism, diversity and human rights for refugees and forced migrants in Canada and abroad.

At York, Adelman joined the Department of Philosophy in 1966, going on to be active as a professor emeritus and senior scholar at the University. In 1988, he founded the Centre for Refugee Studies, which has become the leading research centre in North America focused on forced migration studies. He served as CRS director for its first five years and since then remained a mentor to those at the centre. In 2008, in his honour, the Annual CRS Howard Adelman Lectures were inaugurated to provide an opportunity for scholars, practitioners and advocates to discuss issues impacting refugees and other forced migrants. He also served as a long-term friend and affiliate of the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York.

Beyond York, Adelman served as a national and international leader in refugee protection, human rights and diversity accommodation, often contributing commissioned research reports for governments and international institutions. He has acted as an advisor on refugee concerns to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Government of Canada. In 2018, he was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of his wide-ranging scholarship, public policy work and political activism, which included contributing to the rewriting of the policy of private sponsorship of refugees.

Funeral services were held on July 27 at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. The family has requested that tribute gifts in Adelman’s name be made to either the Holy Blossom Israel Engagement Committee or the Holy Blossom Refugee Relief Fund.

An obituary by David Dewitt, professor emeritus in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, has been published by the Centre for Refugee Studies, further detailing Adelman’s extensive accomplishments.

Passings: Louise Wrazen


York University Professor Louise Wrazen of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), who joined the Department of Music in 2006 and served as Chair from 2010 to 2013 and 2019 to 2021, passed away suddenly on July 14 following a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. She died peacefully in the arms of her husband of 40 years, Alistair Macrae.

Louise Wrazen
Louise Wrazen

The only daughter of the late Ted (Tadeusz) Wrazen and the late Janet Wrazen (née Sidorkewicz) and loving mother of Michael and Emily Macrae, she will be mourned by her beloved in-laws, Jane Hamer (David), Robbie Macrae (Naoko) and Martha Macrae, and by colleagues, alumni and students at York University. 

Wrazen earned her bachelor of music in 1979, master of arts in musicology in 1981 and PhD in 1988, all from the University of Toronto. She taught at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD U) and spent two years at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., as assistant professor and Webster Research Fellow. She completed a further degree in education in 1991.

Wrazen’s research investigated the music and dances of Poland’s Podhale region, Poles from the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland. Her involvement with the Górale was supported not only by ethnomusicological theory and fieldwork, but also her abilities as a fluent Polish speaker, gadulka player and singer. As colleagues recalled, at her first orientation for new students as Chair, she caught everyone’s attention with an electrifying holler, which she shared as an authentic Highlander-style call.

Among her recent research, Wrazen and co-editor Fiona Magowan published Performing Gender, Place and Emotion in Music: Global Perspectives, a 2013 volume that included her own article, “A Place of Her Own: Gendered Singing in Poland’s Tatras.” Her final publication – “A View from Toronto: Local Perspectives on Music Making, Ethnocultural Difference, and the Cultural Life of a City” – appeared in Contemporary Musical Expressions in Canada (McGill UP, 2019). Wrazen also contributed regularly to various journals, including the Society for Ethnomusicology’s key publication, Ethnomusicology. She was a regular and welcome participant at the society’s annual conference and took on various roles within it as well as in the International Council of Traditional Music, for which she served as a board member. Although Poland and Toronto were never far from her heart, she also joined the movement exploring disability in music and published in that area as well.

Wrazen served as Chair of the Department of Music twice during her career, most recently just prior to the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. It is a testament to her strengths as a leader that a department so dependent on live performance was able to find the resources to teach online during this time. She continued to support the diversity of the department, including jazz, popular music, musicology, world music, composition and all aspects of performance. Wrazen was a dedicated teacher and mentor, supervising numerous MA and PhD students in their own successful careers.

Wrazen will be dearly missed, but very fondly remembered. Her door was always open, both as Chair and professor, and she cared deeply about the health and well-being of all of her colleagues and students. She was a model administrator, a generous colleague, teacher and above all a scholar, who brought her own generosity, grace, humanity, and musicality to the discipline and to the larger artistic and intellectual community at the University. 

“The following Górale poem, translated by Louise, seems an ideal way to bid farewell to our colleague and friend,” says Dorothy de Val, professor emerita in AMPD’s Department of Music. “May the ‘bread’ of the poem bring her peace and rest.”

Góry nase góry, wysokie do nieba;
muse wos zostawić, muse sukać chleba.

Mountains, our mountains, reaching to the sky,
I have to leave you now to go in search of bread.

Written with contributions from Dorothy de Val

Passings: Dalton Kehoe

Candle light vigil memorial passing

Long-serving York University faculty member Professor Emeritus Dalton Kehoe passed away July 8 after a two-year battle with ALS.

Dalton Kehoe
Dalton Kehoe

Kehoe was a professor emeritus and senior scholar of communications in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), and dedicated more than 50 years of service to York. He was also an alum of the University, where he earned his doctorate in social psychology.

He came to York in 1967 and was the first faculty member hired by the Social Science Division, said LA&PS Dean J.J. McMurtry

His contributions to York as a teacher, scholar, public speaker and an organizational development practitioner were recognized widely with numerous awards and accolades. He was honoured for his teaching with the York University Teaching Award, and was named one of the province’s top 30 professors by Ontario’s public educational network.

Additionally, Kehoe taught organizations how to reengage their employees in his role as a senior partner in a consulting firm, and ran seminars for organizations across the continent as well as for Schulich ExecEd.

His research on the effects of learning technology on teaching in both the U.S. and Canada earned him national recognition. He published several textbooks and a breakthrough leadership book titled Mindful Management, and was invited to write and produce a DVD series titled Effective Communication Skills for the largest producer of adult education in the U.S., under their Great Courses program. It was a top release in 2011, receiving positive mentions in The Economist, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

He continued to make an impact at York in the Department of Communications Studies with the Dalton Kehoe Prize, which is awarded to a second-year student who achieved the highest GPA in the “Communication in Everyday Life” course.

“Dalton Kehoe had a distinguished career at York, spanning more than 50 years,” said McMurtry. “His awards, accolades, and research make up part of his legacy.”

Those who wish to share memories or condolence messages can visit the online obituary.

Passings: Heather Gore Liddell


Osgoode Professional Development announced that Heather Gore Liddell, beloved team leader, friend and advocate for Osgoode, passed away unexpectedly from interstitial lung disease at the age of 46 on May 20.

Heather Gore Liddell close up portrait
Heather Gore Liddell

Gore Liddell first joined in her role as program lawyer, working on continuing legal education programs (CLE), in June 2005. Having earned her juris doctor (JD) at Osgoode, she was thrilled to return as a staff member. Gore Liddell was a creative people person and ideally suited to creating CLE programs. She was a shrewd businessperson and exceptional people manager. She brought these and other talents to bear as she progressed to senior program lawyer; manager, CLE Programs; and finally, director, CLE programs. She was active in several professional associations, including the Toronto Legal Professional Development Consortium, and the Association of Continuing Legal Education of America. She completed a certificate in adult education from University of Toronto, as well as York University management and leadership programs.

A celebration of life was held on June 9 in the Moot Court at Osgoode. The event brought together family and friends, sharing memories of Gore Liddell’s legendary shopping exploits and road trips, clips of her star turn on “Say Yes to the Dress,” a drag queen, and a visit from an ice cream truck to provide refreshments. Gore Liddell’s ability to connect with people of all kinds, and her tremendous warmth and kindness, were on full display.

Gore Liddell leaves her spouse, Peter Liddell; her father, Craig Gore; her sister, Kerry Haines; her nieces, Holly and Morgan; and extended family, plus a large chosen family. She also had an immense and well-nurtured network of former classmates and professional colleagues.

An Osgoode JD student bursary has been created to honour Gore Liddell ’s memory. It will be awarded annually to a student with financial need and who faces visible and invisible obstacles such as: income; mental health; racial, cultural and gender inequalities; or physical and learning challenges. Donations to the bursary can be made here.

Passings: Ian Charles Jarvie

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Professor Emeritus Ian Charles Jarvie, formerly of York University’s Department of Philosophy, passed away at age 85 with his loved ones at his side on May 16.

Jarvie was born in South Shields, U.K. on July 8, 1937. He was an admired philosopher, pioneering in the fields of the philosophy of the social sciences and the philosophy and sociology of film. With J. O. Wisdom, John O’Neill and Harold Kaplan, Jarvie founded the journal Philosophy of the Social Sciences, which came to define the field. He nurtured it as a managing editor from 1971 for over 50 years until 2023, when he relinquished its management due to failing health. His publications in the philosophy of film and in the sociology of film, linked below, also created new areas of study which have since flourished.

Jarvie was educated at Dover Grammar School for Boys. He graduated with a BSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1958, reading social anthropology. Joseph Agassi, Karl Popper’s assistant, recruited him to philosophy. Jarvie gained his PhD in 1962 under John Watkins’ and Popper’s supervision and often described the latter as his guiding light. From 1960 until 1962, he tutored at LSE and became Popper’s assistant. He then took up a lectureship at the University of Hong Kong for five years, where Agassi had preceded him in 1960. Jarvie was appointed professor in 1967 at the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Social Science at York University. He was the graduate program director for several years in the Department of Philosophy, and he briefly chaired the department in the 1980s, eventually retiring in 2008 as emeritus professor.

Jarvie’s first book, The Revolution in Anthropology (1964), was widely acclaimed. His choice of philosophical method, critical rationalism, was featured in it, combined with his knowledge of social anthropology. In this vein, he published anthropological work on the cargo cults of the South Pacific and contributed to anthropological studies on the media, particularly film. His adherence to functionalism in the study of the social differed from that of Emile Durkheim in that knowledge and ideas must be presented as causal variables. Further, he contended that it must be the case that a functionalist framework with an active role in explanatory ideas requires adopting a rational attitude towards ideas, which aligns with Popper’s influence.

Jarvie collaborated extensively with Agassi on many books and articles, which included the editing with prefaces of several of Ernest Gellner’s collected papers. Their co-authored papers on the rationality of magic, dogmatism, and irrationalism have been widely cited. Their teaching overlapped in Hong Kong for a year, and in 1968 they jointly wrote a book on its state of transition. Agassi was also his colleague at York for 15 years, and they collaborated on editing Rationality: The Critical View (1987), and later, writing A Critical Rationalist Aesthetics (2008).

Jarvie was a Guggenheim scholar in 1986 when he researched his book on Philosophy of the Film: Epistemology, Ontology, Aesthetics (1987). He had an abiding interest in aesthetics and taught it successfully for many years at the University. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His consolidated publications list includes hundreds of scholarly papers and reviews, in addition to 14 books, of which two were co-authored with Agassi. Furthermore, he managed and co-edited an academic journal for 52 years, and co-edited 17 books. He died, at nearly 86 years of age, with medical assistance, from cancer.

Although prolific as a contributing scholar and editor, Jarvie was a modest man with a genial, optimistic and cheerful attitude. He will be missed by his family, colleagues and his many friends in the academic world. He is survived by his wife, Jeanette Bicknell, their daughter Madeleine, his brother Bruce, and two children, Suzanne and Max, by his former wife, May Jarvie.

Passings: Eva Joanne Blake


Long-serving staff member Eva Joanne Blake passed away peacefully at age 65 on May 14. Blake was a dedicated graduate program assistant in the Department of Social Science at York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Eva Joanne Blake portrait
Eva Joanne Blake

Blake had a long and distinguished career with the University, beginning her journey at York in 1975 and retiring, after 46 years, in February 2021. Her contributions left a lasting impact on her team and her dedication, knowledge and warm personality made her a beloved colleague and friend to many.

She was known for her love of nature, beautiful flowers, gemstones and crystals. She also enjoyed dancing and was a patron of the arts – particularly live theatre. She loved travelling and experiencing all of the wonderful things the world has to offer.

Blake was the mother of Andre and Renée, the sister of Tony and Sam, and the grandmother of Greyson, Leyla and Soleia.

She will be deeply missed by a host of family and friends.

A memorial service took place on May 28. Family, friends and colleagues can view a video of the service, share photos and send condolences to Blake’s loved ones at: