Richard Curtis Willmott, PhD’65

Dick was born March 19, 1930, in Chungking, West China, and came to North America with his family for a furlough year in 1936/37 and again in 1944. He remained to continue his education: a BA from Swarthmore College in 1952 and an MSc from Princeton University in 1954.

For the following six years he worked at Canadian Marconi and International Syscoms in Montreal as a radio engineer. In 1960, he returned to his first love, mathematics, receiving his PhD. For the next 25 years Dick researched and taught mathematics at University College in London, UK, l’Universite de Montreal, Queen’s University, the University of Zambia, and the University of Essex.

Dick played soccer and field hockey into his adult years, and was an avid rock climber and mountaineer. He traversed Mt. Victoria in the Canadian Rockies and attempted to summit Mt. Waddington. He got his pilot’s license in his 20s, later building and flying a small two-seater Kitfox from Ontario to BC. Dick was an excellent folk-dancer with a particular fondness for Israeli and Balkan rhythms and fancy footwork – both of which he taught. He once graced Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage dancing as a Bulgarian and sang in numerous choirs, both large and small. He retired to Salt Spring Island in 1999 where woodworking, travel and volunteering filled many a day.

Over the years, Dick’s thoughtful and inquisitive mind led him to think deeply about world events and a lifelong opposition to racism, war, and social inequality. He cared about other people and the world we live in, and did what he could to better it.

On August 2, 2012, Dick died of gastric cancer at Salt Spring’s Lady Minto Hospital. He will be missed by his wife of 51 years, Jill; his children, Ian, Michele, and Derek; and his siblings, Joy, Don and Bill.

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