SPEARMAN, Dr. Blair
Dr. Blair Spearman passed away unexpectedly on October 1st, 2017 at the age of 66 at his favourite cottage on the Arrow Lakes in the Kootenays. He is survived by Laura, his devoted wife of 33 years, his precious daughter Valerie, his loving sister Paula Angus (Bill) and niece Meredith Angus of Calgary; his uncle George Spearman (Helen), first cousin Doug Spearman (Ginette) and many more cousins and relatives of Ottawa. Predeceased by his parents Ken and Eileen Spearman. He was born in Ottawa, Ontario on September 29th, 1951 and completed his undergraduate and master’s degree at Carleton University before going on to finish a PhD at Pennsylvania State University where he met one of his best friends and a well-known mathematician, Dr. Lance Littlejohn.
He was not only a wonderful husband and father but also a renowned mathematician. He inspired thousands of students with his simple yet eloquent teaching style that even made some of his students decide to switch their major in order to pursue mathematics instead. He was the very first recipient of the UBC Okanagan Teaching Excellence and Innovation award and was consistently on the Teaching Honour Roll. Research was something he greatly enjoyed and had a passion for, having published over 115 mathematical papers in well known journals with co-authors including Dr. Kenneth Williams. He taught at UBC Okanagan for many years and worked alongside brilliant colleagues including Dr. Qiduan Yang, Dr. Heinz Bauschke, and Dr. Shawn Wang.
Blair was an avid outdoorsman who was very fond of nature and wildlife and spent most of his spare time canoeing, fishing and harvesting game. He often said that most of his creative ideas for research came from his contact with nature. With that said, in lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the BC Wildlife Federation. Blair’s memorial service will be held on October 9th, 2017 at 1:00 PM at the Springfield Funeral Home in Kelowna. There will be a visitation beforehand from 12:00 to 1:00 PM. If you wish to send a condolence, post photos, or to share a memory, please scroll down this page to the area called “share your condolences.”
There will be a visitation before the service from 12:00 to 1:00 PM.
Springfield Funeral Home
(2020 Springfield Road, Kelowna, BC)
Monday, October 9th, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Springfield Funeral Home
Share with Others:
The service for SPEARMAN, Dr. Blair is scheduled for Monday, October 9th, 2017 at 1:00 PM . Below you will find the map for the service location and the contact information should you have any questions.
Laura, I’m so sorry to hear Blair died. He was a great guy. yrs, Rob
Laura & Valerie,
We are so sorry to have heard the news. We have lots of great memories together with Blair. Our science condolences to you both.
John & Garney
Valerie and Laura,
We are deeply sadden to hear the news, we still remember all the times we went to the cottage and “money tree” with Blair.
Lavina & Kington
My heart goes out to you at this tragic time. Blair’s death is a shock to us all.
With much love,
It is with great sadness that I write these few words about Blair. On behalf of my wife Carole and our three children who knew Blair, we offer our sincere sympathies to Laura, Valerie and Blair’s entire family on their loss.
Blair was a first rate mathematician whom I have known since the early 1970s when he was a student in mathematics at Carleton University. He completed his honours thesis for his bachelor’s degree in 1975 and his master’s thesis a year later, both under my supervision. Blair won an NSERC postgraduate scholarship for which he was given the rarely granted permission to hold outside Canada at Pennsylvania State University, where he completed his Ph. D. in mathematics under the supervision of Professor W. C. Waterhouse in 1981. After positions at the College of New Caledonia, Prince George; Okanagan College, Vernon; Okanagan College, Kelowna and Okanagan University College, Kelowna, Blair became a professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. During the period 1986 to 2011 Blair and I collaborated on mathematical research publishing over 75 joint papers some co-authored with Blair’s students Melissa Lavallee, Daniel Eloff, Aya Watanabe and Alan K. Silvester, some with his colleague Dr Qiduan Yang, two with Blair’s wife Laura who carried out the extensive computations required for the research, as well as other colleagues.
Since we lived 4000 kilometers apart our collaboration was often in the form of summer visits by Blair to Ottawa, where we worked together at Carleton University or in my study at home, sometimes with Jim Huard a professor at Canisius College in Buffalo. As well as bouncing ideas off each other about how to prove needed results as well as agonizing over the complicated details of various proofs, we also had time for relaxation. Many times we would have a long lazy lunch on the banks of the Rideau river at Carleton University with other colleagues or if we were working at my home we would have lunch with my wife Carole in our kitchen. We discussed the politics of the day including university politics and also our common interest in nature. Blair would stay with his parents during these trips to Ottawa and take the opportunity to visit his cottage property on the Canadian shield outside Ottawa, where he told me the rhubarb only grew a few centimeters high due to the thinness of the soil.
I have lost a dear friend and colleague. The mathematics department at UBCO has lost a fine mathematical researcher and a dedicated teacher. Laura has lost a very loving husband and Valerie has lost a loving and very proud father. Blair will be sorely missed by his family, students, friends and colleagues for years to come.
Kenneth S. Williams
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
October 5, 2017
Laura, Valerie, Paula, Bill and Meredith:
We are so very sorry & saddened to hear the news of Blair’s passing. We are thinking of you all and hope that all your cherished memories of Blair will carry you through this time.
Laurie, Jason & Olivia O’Dale
To All of Blair’s Family,
I was so saddened to read of Blair’s passing in the Ottawa Citizen on the weekend. My brother Brian Gardner was a close friend of Blair’s growing up, both grade school and high school in the West End of Ottawa. When they went off in different directions with university and work afterwards they kept in touch when they could over the years..
Brian passed away of a massive heart attack in 2013 at age 62. They were both born in 1951.
I believe that tears can heal
That memories can comfort
And that Love lives on forever
May Blair Rest in Peace.
Sharon (Gardner) Martinsen and husband Ken
Laura and Valerie, I am so sorry to hear about Blair’s passing. A week later and I am still in deep shock and mourning. Blair and I have been close and dear friends since we met in graduate school at Penn State in the fall of 1976. For over forty years, I have admired his dedication to teaching and mathematical research. Rarely have I met someone who excelled so well at both. He published high quality research in number theory as evidenced by the journals where his work appears. And he won numerous teaching awards — I can still remember the first one he was awarded at Penn State. More than a gifted mathematician, Blair was a terrific husband and father and a dear and respected friend to so many people. I will miss this wonderful friend very much. My sincerest condolences to you, Laura and Valerie.
Laura and Valerie,
Our thoughts are with you at this most difficult time. Take comfort in knowing how many lives Blair has touched and what a wonderful legacy he leaves.
…Lee and Joanne
Thinking of you and your family today Paula. Love and support from Calgary. Jane and Jack.
Laura & Valerie – My husband & I watched the Celebration of Blair’s Life via video. We were very touched.
What a brilliant mind he had and what a wonderful Husband & Dad.
Wanted to let you know that the slideshow at the end had a picture of “The Rock Group”. That was my brother Brian who in my previous condolence I mentioned. He is the other skinny fellow right beside Blair. What a handsome couple of fellows they were.
They really enjoyed their little group and were very good. My husband Ken & I drove them to a couple of their venues that were out of Ottawa. They played quite a few places back then.
My brother Brian ended up becoming an Accountant for Revenue Canada in Ottawa
Again, our condolences to both of you and your families. Blair will always be remembered. Love Sharon (Gardner) Martinsen
I was deeply saddened to hear about D. Spearman’s passing. He was a terrific professor inside and outside the classroom. I thoroughly enjoyed the talks we had, and was thrilled to have a chance to do directed studies with him. He brought clarity to what felt like otherworldly mathematics, and he did it with ease, peacefulness, and friendliness. I will miss him and never forget him. My heart goes out to all of his friends and family.