Gorman, Donald "Digger"
1922 - April 2020 Earth Sciences/Geology https://www.utoronto.ca/news/memoriam-donald-digger-gorman-beloved-u-t-earth-sciences-professor
Donald Herbert "Digger" Gorman, Ph.D. (1922 –April 20, 2020). Professor, Earth sciences (Geology) in the Faculty of Arts & Science, U of T. OBITUARIES: 1: GORMAN, DONALD "DIGGER" HERBERT After a long and rich life, died peacefully in his 98th year, on April 20, 2020. Born in Fredericton in 1922, he completed a BSc degree in his native New Brunswick in 1947, after his studies were interrupted by wartime service in the Canadian Navy. After spending 1948-1949 studying economic geology as a graduate student and Beaverbrook scholar at the Royal School of Mines in London, England, he earned a PhD degree at the University of Toronto in 1957 and launched his teaching career. Digger was a renowned geologist and professor who taught for more than 40 years at the University of Toronto. He was a popular lecturer at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Walker Mineralogical Club, the oldest mineral club in Canada, which named him its Honourary President in 1981. In 2009, he was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame and had a mineral (Gormanite) named in his honour. He was a lifelong member of The United Church of Canada and an active member of the Masonic Lodge. He was predeceased by his loving wife Reta (nee Hill) and was a proud father of Lana (predeceased), Bill (Terry), Tom (Jane), Kathy (Mike) and Liz (Bart). Fondly remembered by his ten grandchildren Wendy, Doug, David (predeceased), Jennifer, Dan, Emma, Matthew, Michelle, Kait and Maggie and by his eleven great-grandchildren Rachel, Brayden, Tyler, Dylan, Anna, Calvin, Owen, Eleanor, Luke, Kendra and Makaela. Digger leaves behind an enviable legacy of kindness, generosity, compassion, an inquisitive mind and a love of life. His extraordinary curiosity and love of learning filled his world. With a breadth of knowledge on a staggeringly large number of topics, he was the original Google before it existed for his family and all who knew him. At 97, he played the harmonica in a Hillbilly band, wrote short stories, composed a collection of limericks, participated enthusiastically in a mental aerobics group, was a member of the board of directors for Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and was an executive on the Sunnybrook Veterans Council. A heartfelt thanks to all of the compassionate and incredible caregivers at Sunnybrook Hospital's Veterans' K Wing, whom he adored and respected so much. The family will be holding a private interment service and a memorial service will be planned in the future when current restrictions are lifted. Online condolences may be left for the family at https://www.arbormemorial.ca/en/highland-scarborough/obituaries
To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store. Published in Toronto Star on Apr. 22, 2020. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?pid=196039989 2: Emeritus Professor Donald ” Digger” Gorman, 1922 – 2020
Emeritus Professor Donald “Digger” Gorman, a highly respected mineralogist in the Department of Geology (now Earth Sciences) passed away on April 20, 2020, at the age of 98. He is remembered by colleagues and former students as an inspiring teacher and a caring person who spent more than 40 years sharing his enthusiasm for mineralogy and the mining industry with his students. He served as President of the Mineralogical Association of Canada in 1964 and, in 2009, he was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame. The eponymous mineral Gormanite is named after him.
1: In his own words: “Digger” Gorman’s introduction to the Department of Geology Donald H (Digger) Gorman at the age of 94 is the oldest surviving faculty member of the Department of Geology (now Earth Sciences) at the University of Toronto where he taught mineralogy until his retirement in 1988. He served in the Canadian Navy during WWII and in 1947 came to the University of Toronto to study mineralogy from the University of New Brunswick where he had finished a BSc that had been interrupted by the war. Digger is now a resident of the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook hospital. He suffers vision and mobility issues but his mind is a sharp as ever. At the urging of Nick Eyles, Steve Scott who is a frequent visitor, has recorded Digger’s remembrances of the early days of our department. What follows is a transcription of the first of 10 interviews. The full series of interviews will eventually appear on the Department’s web site at www.es.utoronto.ca. “It is my pleasure to record some of my historical time at what was always called the Department of Geology. I have been asked several times in the past few years to do this type of thing particularly along with my old colleague John Gittins but we just never got around to it so I am very happy now that Steve has prompted me to do this. I have to do it from memory, of course, because I have no notes to go by. “What I should do is take you back to my University of New Brunswick days and tell you how it happened that I came to the University of Toronto’s Department of Geology. My professor of geology at UNB, at the time, was Dr G. S. McKenzie and we only had two geology professors. He was full time and his colleague, the Provincial Geologist, Dr Wright, was adjunct professor of petroleum and structural geology. Dr McKenzie had taken his PhD at U of T and then gone into Mining. He knew the Head of the UofT department, E. S. Moore, and also knew and probably took a course from M. A. Peacock, a world-renowned mineralogist, so he was very knowledgeable of our geology department. Without going into details, I became very interested in minerals at UNB. By my third year, Dr McKenzie had me instructing and going through old collections and identifying minerals at that time through the two types of microscopes and by chemical blowpipe analysis. By my mid fourth year, he knew I wanted to become a mineralogist and he knew that the proper place for me was the University of Toronto. Near the end of my fourth year, he wrote to Moore, and said ‘I have this young student who is intensely interested in mineralogy and I know that Dr Peacock would probably take him because he is a good student and I am wondering if you could get him some sort of a scholarship to help him out financially’. Dr Moore wrote back and said ‘I talked to Peacock. He would be delighted to have him. There is no question about a scholarship’. So I was awarded a scholarship which paid my tuition and some living expenses.” “I entered U of T, the old Mining Building, with my $500 scholarship cheque in hand and two letters of recommendation from Dr McKenzie, one to Dr Moore explaining a bit about my career and my interest in minerals and the other to Dr Peacock thanking him for taking me and assuring him that I would do my best. It is quite interesting because here I am entering the Mining Building as a young guy from UNB, a very small university, and I am kind of a novice here in the big city at the great university and in the huge Mining Building. I am a little bit nervous. In any case, I thought it would be proper to see the Head of the department first. I went into Dr Moore’s office, presented my letters and credentials. He read them and I will never forget what he said to me: ‘Well, Mr Gorman, you are up here from the University of New Brunswick and I’ve got to tell you that, while you are here, you will be under my supervision, you will do exactly as I say, you will take the precise courses that I recommend and the man you will be working for is an ass.’ That was my introduction to the Department of Geology. I left his office armed with the letter for Professor Peacock. Professor Peacock was kind of an austere guy – we called him an Englishman but he was actually a Scotsman. I presented my letter to him from Dr McKenzie. He read it and I couldn’t believe my ears. He said to me: ‘Mr Gorman, you are up here from the University of New Brunswick but, while you are here at the University of Toronto, I am your boss. You will do exactly what I say. You will take the courses that I prescribe and the Head of this department is an ass.’ So, I was thinking to myself as I was walking down to the corner of Spadina and College to deposit my cheque that, if these are friends of Dr McKenzie, I don’t know who needs enemies! That was my introduction to the Department of Geology.” “I didn’t know much about the history of the department but at that time it was called the Department of Geology and E. S. Moore, a distinguished economic geologist, was the Head. Professor Peacock was pre-eminent at morphological crystallography and a pioneer in x-ray crystallography. He was gung ho to have the department called the Department of Mineralogy and, indeed, when I took graduate crystal drawing from him, the drawing board that I used had stencilled in big official letters on the back of it ‘The Department of Mineralogy’. It seemed that ever since Professor Peacock entered the department, he always wanted a Department of Mineralogy, maybe in conjunction with Geology. He failed in that. We did have at that time competent mineralogists – Dr V. B. Meen, who was Curator of Mineralogy at the Royal Ontario Museum and cross appointed, Professor Peacock, and Dr Les Nuffield, who was one of Peacock’s very early graduates, as the junior Professor of Mineralogy. At that time, as I recall, my senior professors would include Professors Moore and Peacock, Dr Nuffield, and Madeleine Fritz – she was a full professor at the Royal Ontario Museum but had an office in the Department of Geology. Loris Russell was Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology. New professors were Peter Peach in petrology and Frank Beales in the sedimentary side of petrology and an expert in limestones. Later on, a young professor would be Walter Tovell and subsequently, not too long after, I became Professor of Mineralogy. I remember the famous geologist Dave Baird who was a UNB graduate and started the Drumheller Museum. When I was about to come up to Toronto, Dave, a good friend of mine, said to me ‘You may know your stuff, but when you get up to U of T, you are going to be in the big leagues, but I know that you will give it your best shot and that you are going up there to learn something.’ However, when I arrived, I had my eyes wide open as to just how advanced U of T was over UNB. Professors Moore and Peacock combined their demands and insisted that I take six full undergraduate courses. I didn’t (and couldn’t !) object. I did so well in the courses that Professor Peacock said it wouldn’t be necessary for me to take a Master’s degree. He wouldn’t delay my progress and put me directly into the PhD programme. So, that started me out in 1948 as a full-fledged graduate student under the world-renowned Professor Peacock! (to be continued…).” Digger Gorman, Steve Scott, Henry Halls
2: “Digger” Gorman; In His Own Words, Part Two In last year’s Alumni News (Issue 27, 2018, p.6) we included an interview that Steve Scott had with “Digger” Gorman, our oldest Professor Emeritus at 95. We promised to run the second installment on the Department’s web page, but have decided to continue it here as it records an interesting and never-told-before story concerning the attendance of Madeleine Fritz, Professor of Paleontology and Professor M.A. Peacock, Professor of Mineralogy and Crystallography, at Department Orals. These comprehensive examinations on all aspects of Geology had to be passed in order to be admitted to a PhD Program. With this background, Digger’s story continues….. “I remember ending my first session in the department as a fully-fledged student under Professor Peacock. When I came to UofT, Professor Peacock had tried very hard to have the department called the Department of Mineralogy. He was, of course, a very powerful man. In fact, his title at the University of Toronto was Professor of Mineralogy and Crystallography, never Professor of Geology. He was very proud of that and he used to say that he was the only geology professor in the world with that title. Somewhere along the line, there must have been a department of mineralogy because, when I took my crystal drawing from him as a graduate student, the draughting board that I used had that name in large stencilled official letters; at that time his wish for the department to be called the Department of Mineralogy had lots of competition and, of course, he never won.” “At that time, there was quite a controversy between Dr. Peacock and Dr. Fritz and I arrived just in the middle of it. I’ll tell you this anecdote as part of UofT history. Dr. Peacock used to go to the paleontologists’ departmental orals and give the young paleontology students a really hard time. He said every person should know mineralogy and crystallography and, indeed, I think he actually flunked a few people. To counteract that, when a mineralogy student came up and there were many of them (Dr. Peacock took two PhD students a year so there were often six !), Professor Fritz used to say all mineralogy students should know the Earth’s history and paleontology. She would often flunk out Professor Peacocks students. Now, I came along as a maritimer. I had to go and see various professors to see what make-up classes I had to take, and of course I had to see Miss Fritz as we called her. I entered her office, told her who I was and she said ‘Oh, you’re from UNB. You’re from New Brunswick. I’m from New Brunswick. I’m from St John. My father was a sea captain. Sit down!’ I sat down and she said ‘Do you like dalts?’ Dalts are dried seaweed and a NB delicacy. I said that I did love dalts. She opened her drawer and threw a handful of dalts at me. We sat there and probably chatted for over an hour eating these dalts. The long and the short of it was she said ‘I hear you have a nickname ‘Digger’. I said ‘Yes’ and she said ‘I’ll call you Digger. Please call me Madeleine.’ This was sort of unheard of. She was a senior professor and a bit prudish at times. I can always remember going up to the lounge afterwards and saying ‘I just had a meeting with Madeleine’ and Bill Gross, one of my fellow graduate students, said ‘Dig, if you call her Madeleine, you can pack your bags and get back to Fredericton. She’s not going to have any truck with you.’ In any case, Madeleine and I became old friends and, when it became time for me to take my department oral, I went to see her to say ‘What should I brush up on?’ She said, ‘Oh no Dig, you’re a mineralogy-crystallographer. I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t have to know any paleontology and I’m not going to come to your departmental oral.’ I remember leaving her office and coming up to the lounge. Professor Peacock was there and I said ‘Well, you know, I have just come from Professor Fritz’s office. I got good news at least. I don’t have to study any paleontology’ and he said ‘Why’s that?’ I said ‘Well, Professor Fritz said you guys in mineralogy and crystallography really don’t have to know much paleontology’ and he said ‘Did she say that?’ I said ‘Yah’ and he said ‘Well, you know, come to think of it, I’ve been a little hard on the paleo people. Really, you know, those paleontologists don’t have to know much about crystallography. I don’t think I will come to their departmental orals anymore.’ So, I spread that word around to several of the graduate students who were paleontologists. Some had become very high up in paleontology in the geological survey and, although I was a mineralogist, I had many young friends in paleontology because I was their hero who stopped Professor Peacock from going to their departmental orals. That was quite a leap forward for graduate students”. As an addendum, did you ever wonder why Professor Gorman was nicknamed “Digger”? His studies to be a geologist at UNB were interrupted when the second World War broke out. At that time he joined the navy where his comrades on board, on learning that he studied rocks, called him “Digger”. The name stuck!