Fred Lossing Eulogy

Keith Ingold

[The following text is a condensation of Keith Ingold's eulogy to Fred Lossing at the memorial service held on May 26.]

My name is Keith Ingold and I am going to say just a few words to help all of us remember Fred Lossing, a man of enormous ability and integrity who had extraordinary personal warmth, kindness and good humour.

Fred was a superb chemist and a wonderfully caring husband and father. He and Frances were married in June 1938, almost 60 years ago. Fred was a staunch friend, advisor and role model for dozens of us youngsters. Fred was my first research boss in Canada and I was his second post-doctoral fellow (PDF). He brought authority, kindness, direction and compassion to my somewhat chaotic lifestyle. He taught me how to think, how to do research and how to become a much better person. In other words, I actually grew-up during my two years with Fred and I was not the only one who did. I saw Fred work his magic on many another youngster, including all of his other PDFs and also all the young "RASCALS," as they called themselves - the teenaged members of the Ottawa Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Fred got many a teenager enthusiastic about astronomy - and other sciences - by his own overwhelming enthusiasm and unique mentoring skills. Fred was interested in just about everything and was outstanding in all his many areas of interest: chemistry, astronomy, music, and so on.

Let me try to take you back nearly 50 years. I was still wet behind the ears when I emigrated to Canada. Nevertheless, Fred and Frances accepted me into their hearts and home and devoted a significant chunk of their lives to helping me grow up. I can never repay them except, perhaps, as I did 42 years ago when I asked Fred to be the best man at my wedding. Mind you, I was quite astonished to be getting married and feeling very insecure and uncertain about the whole business. However, with Fred at my side supporting and encouraging me I was more than willing to give this new adventure a try. Worked out O.K. too!

Let me tell you briefly about my first encounters with Fred. We worked together in a small lab in the basement of the NRC building on Sussex Drive. We shared the lab with two enormous mass spectrometers and two small young ladies who were technicians. We had to sit four in a row and when the person on the inside wanted to leave the lab it could only be done after the other three had filed out into the corridor. These cramped quarters would have been unbearable but for Fred's unvarying good nature and wonderful sense of humour.

I became very sick about two weeks after I arrived and was rushed by ambulance to a now non-existent Isolation Hospital. Fred came every single day to visit and see if I was O.K. Mostly I wasn't, and I think I only survived and recovered because of Fred's genuine interest and concern. When I finally got back to work I used to pull his leg and tell him he had only visited me to make sure I was still alive because I was his only PDF.

It must have been right after I was let out of the hospital that Fred invited me, in that very Canadian tradition, to come to his home for dinner and to meet Frances and his three young girls. One of the girls asked what I did, so I replied: "Your daddy teaches me." A look of utter incredulity spread over her face as she replied, "Ah, g'waan."

I visited the Lossing home on many occasions and discovered that it was a very musical home. Fred was a wonderful cello player and Frances, a wonderful pianist. They loved to play chamber music in their home with a few of their musical friends. Fred practiced on his cello every day of his life.

What else should I tell you about this family man, talented musician, amateur astronomer, science fiction buff and outstanding chemist who was a role model for so many of us? I think only the bare facts because each of you will have your own special memories about this special person and I do hope that my remarks have helped you to bring back those special memories. Fred did his Ph.D. at McMaster and then worked for Shawinigan Chemicals for four years before joining the NRC in 1946. For his research at the NRC he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was the Associate Director of the Division of Chemistry from 1969 to 1977. He retired from the NRC in 1980 but did not stop his research, moving into John Holmes' lab in the University of Ottawa and doing some of his very best work in that lab over the next 15 or so years.

Fred will be remembered for his kindness, humour and unfailing good spirits. At this time I extend for all of us, our condolences to Frances and the family. We all miss Fred terribly.


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