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Neil Donald MacRae

August 28, 2015

 9 October 1935 – 28 August 2015

At home following a long fight with cancer.  Neil is survived by son John, grandsons Matthew and Carmine, and sister Miriam, and by many nieces, nephews and cousins.  He is predeceased by parents Hilda and Harvey and sister Jean.  Following a B.Sc. from the Faculty of Engineering at Queen’s University, M.Sc. and Ph.D. from McMaster University and post-doctoral year at the University of Minnesota, Neil joined the Department of Geology (renamed the Department of Earth Sciences) at the University of Western Ontario where he (reluctantly) retired – to concentrate on his struggle with cancer – after 47 years of teaching, research and student supervision in 2012.  Neil spent brief research leaves at Lehigh University, the Carnegie Institute, and Purdue University, and longer sabbaticals at the University of Melbourne, Australia and the University of Auckland, New Zealand.  His many publications range widely, including mantle xenoliths in Australia, diamonds in Canada’s north, and abundance of various economic mineral associations, and intriguing characteristics of meteorites.  Cremation has taken place; Neil’s ashes will be interred on the same site as his parents at the Lingwick Protestant Cemetery in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  A reception will be held at the WESTVIEW FUNERAL CHAPEL, 709 Wonderland Road North, London, on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  Neil and family wish to extend particular thanks to the doctors and nurses of the London Regional Cancer Program (Victoria Hospital) for their remarkable care and friendship throughout his lengthy treatments. Those wishing to make a donation in Neil’s memory are asked to consider the London Regional Cancer Program.

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Jim and I were privileged to share a friendship with Neil for 40 years. Oh, the parties in those early years! Neil could also make science come alive - even for non-scientific friends. We were on hand for the coming of John and in turn, John's sons, to enrich Neil's life. We know how much you will miss him and our thoughts are with you in these days.

~ Lana and Jim Sutherland

(Donated to London Regional Cancer Program)

~ Burns Cheadle

(Donated to London Regional Cancer Program)

~ Former student

Condolences to John and the rest of Neil's family. Many of the former students at the University of Melbourne in the 1970s made life long friendships with Neil, with a number of visits to London over the following years. He was that sort of a guy. He will be missed by many in Australia.

~ David Walker

Neil was an immense contributor to the Faculty of Science at Western. He was innovative in his teaching and brought great passion for Earth Sciences to the classroom. He built a strong sense of community in Earth Sciences, and Science generally, based on his commitment and his inspiration, by expressing and spreading happiness in many different ways, and by his active, thoughtful and nurturing involvement in the life of the Department. Neil’s work laid the foundation for the positive and principled culture that embraces Earth Sciences at Western.

~ Charmaine Dean, Dean of Science at Western

My condolences to you and your family John. I am privileged to have known Neil. He was a dear friend unmatched in his loyalty and generosity.

~ John Travis

With great sadness I learned of Neil's passing. I consider him my teaching mentor who always put students first. After Neil, I also became Undergraduate Chair of Western's Earth Sciences department and I treasured his advice. I now have the honour of occupying his former office and would like to think that he is still helping me to serve students as best I can.

~ Steve Hicock

Linda and I were deeply saddened to learn of Neil's passing and wish to express our condolences to John and family. Neil was one year ahead of me at Queen's and was one of the main reasons that I followed him to McMaster where we did our PhDs. Neil also spent a year with us at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He was a really a wonderful friend

~ Reid Keays

I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and supervisor. He was a wonderful mentor and teacher that always had time for students. I will be forever grateful for his guidance and support as it made me a better scientist. My condolences to John and family, your father will be truly missed.

~ Greg Shellnutt

I offer my sincere condolences to John and the extended MacRae family. It was my great honour to have known Neil since my days as a graduate student in Western's Department of Geology beginning in 1981. Having returned in 2009 to begin my second career as an academic, I was delighted to find Neil still actively engaged in the Department and giving the gift of his knowledge and experience to a new generation of students. Neil will be sorely missed, and I am honoured to have known him as a mentor, a colleague, and a friend.

~ Burns Cheadle

Where to begin...this is so difficult to write. My husband Joe and I met Neil some 9 years ago, when Neil got a Norwegian Elkhound puppy, named see, we too are elkhound owners, to many known as "Moosedoggers". We lived only blocks from Neil and Gunnar and thus a friendship grew as we would meet on walks...during these walks, conversations were always lively and varied greatly in topic...I learned, on one such walk when I commented in awe, on a tree ahead of us that was in full autumnal colours and his response had been, "what tree?" that he was colour blind...who knew? We shared recipes and their origins and when I discovered he enjoyed chili sauce, I shared batches of mine with him...politics was another shared interest; in fact, in the last election, first a Liberal sign went up on his front lawn only to be followed a short time later by a Conservative sign! Well, Neil admitted to me that he was undecided on how he would vote....we both laughed at this. We shared books after discovering that we liked the same authors, mainly mystery. Gardening was yet another interest shared...WHAT A ZEST FOR LIFE Neil had!! One of the things that saddens me most is that, although we considered him a great friend, I realize how little we knew him...and now we will be cheated from learning more from him....and oh, the laughing, I will miss the laughing...and his smile...his upbeat attitude.... And in recent months, Joe and I both got to know John but particularly my husband as he and John walked the dogs together, when Neil couldn' it is to John, whom Neil loved dearly, that we extend our most sincere condolences.

~ Mary and Joe Meaden

Neil was a wonderful colleague, who always went the extra mile for students and for our department. In particular, Neil made enormous contributions as an Executive Committee member of the then new Department of Earth Sciences when it was created from the former Geology and Geophysics departments. Neil worked tirelessly to help us create a vibrant and happy department with strong educational values that placed the success of its students above all. Neil was an unselfish and caring presence who we will always remember.

~ Fred Longstaffe

My heartfelt condolences to John and the MacRae family. For more than the four decades, Neil, was always supportive and constructive, ever positive, gifted in offering sound advice and guidance, always generosity of spirit, and forever present and enthusiastic as an educator and as a friend. I am honoured and privileged to have had Neil as a friend and to have had him as my scientific mentor during my early geological career and then do collaborative research later in our careers. I will miss your kind spirit. Al

~ Allan Miller

I benefitted greatly by knowing Neil, both as my thesis supervisor from 1994-96 and as a life mentor. He was such a great role model: a hard worker, an enthusiastic scientist, an objective opinion. A dog lover as well! All my best to his family and friends. It saddens me to hear of his passing.

~ Adrienne Jones

Hi John. My heart is broken. What lovely visits Neil and I have shared over the years as we have reminisced about growing up in Scotstown. I remember as a youngster when he would come back to visit family that my folks looked forward to seeing him and hearing of his travels and his work. We were all so proud of him. And he made my Mom (his Aunt Flora) so happy when he surprised her by showing up for her 100th birthday celebration. That was Neil--family was always important to him. I do not expect to be able to be in London on Tuesday but if you will let me know when his ashes will be interred in Gould, perhaps I could attend there. Alan and I send you our most sincere condolences, John. I have wonderful photos of your boys, whom he loved to talk about. We will miss him together, forever. In loving memory Carol

~ Cousin Carol

So sorry to hear of Neil's passing but what a wonderful life he had. Of course, coming from Scotstown, he had to have a nickname and that was "Neily Boy". He certainly lived up to his name! I remember he visited my sister one winter day and had a flat tire on his fancy car. He lost his wallet that day but in the spring - found the wallet under the snow! What memories! My sympathy to Neil's family.

~ Marilyn Goodin Boulanger

Sad to hear about Neil, great friend growing up, and when he was in Chibougamau, in northern Quebec as we were their at that time too, great memories, Sincere sympathy to all the family.

~ AnnA Maclennan Rodgers

Our sincere condolences to the MacRae family we will all miss that big smile that Neil always had.

~ Peter Goodin

My sincere condolences to the MacRae family and friends. I knew of Neil by reputation for many, but recently had the pleasure of working with him on the Southampton meteorite.

~ Stephen Kissin

Uncle Neil played a huge role in my life. The phone would ring and the two of us could talk for ages about almost anything under the sun - current events, world politics, science and nature, books and of course, family. I will miss the laughs we shared and always have a warm smile in my heart for my wonderful uncle.

~ Debirah Holland

May I offer my condolences. I knew Neil since my first days as a junior faculty member at Western in 1986. I will always be grateful for his friendship, good humor and guidance. He will not be forgotten. Guy Plint, Professor of Geology.

~ Guy Plint

John, I met your dad when we got our crazy dog Pierre and Gunner and your dad befriended us. Neil was always surprised that Gunner liked our dog who was a smaller breed whom Gunner usually had little time for...However, I didn't know your dad's name for a long while he was simply Gumner's dad. We will miss the early morning greetings and visits, such a lovely soul.

~ Susan Nickel

Hi John, Neil was a brilliant scholar and excellent educator who shared life with others in an open and friendly manner . I enjoyed his enthusiasm for life and will miss him greatly . My condolences to Neil's family. Peter

~ Peter Warwick

My sincere sympathy to Neil's family. I have many wonderful memories of precious times shared with Hilda, Harvey, Neil and his sisters on the Lingwick Road I would like to attend the service in Gould if you would send me an email. Neil, may you rest in peace!

~ Ann Goodin Auray

I would like to extend my condolences on Neil's passing. I had the great opportunity to be both a student and colleague of Neil's, and his love and devotion to teaching has left a wonderful footprint in my life. Much love, Deana.

~ Deana Schwarz

Dear Cousin John, Our deepest and most sincere condolences to you and the kids, especially on these hardest first few days. As we've known since we were kids, your dad was a good and kind man (even when he "got his gailic up," there was always a twinkle behind the eyes!) and an accomplished scientist, academic and educator who made valuable contributions to his field, both on his own and through teams he led and students he unleashed on the world. About 15 years ago, when I was living in K-W, Uncle invited me to a nice patio place for dinner and drinks, and a couple of cocktails in he told me something I want to share: He said something like "I love my work more than anything else except for John." We'll see you Tuesday. Love, ~Ian & Jeannie

~ Ian & Jeanie

Dear John I had the great pleasure of working with your father for the last few years at Western. Neil was already retired when I arrived, but he continued to teach several courses; in fact, he was the first in our department to introduce online courses, which allowed thousands of young students to experience the wonders of Earth Science. Neil was extremely welcoming to me personally and supported the department with these courses for many years into his retirement. He had a quiet and friendly manner and everyone in the Department of Earth Sciences at Western will miss him greatly. Our best wishes to you, Gerhard Pratt (Department Chair, Earth Sciences)

~ Gerhard Pratt

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