Monday, July 27, 2015

Prof. Alexander "Sandy" Allan

In the years since my book was published, people have asked about the dedication page. Who is "Sandy?" Professor Alexander "Sandy" Allan was my great uncle, my inspiration, and the guide to my academic and professional life. He passed away on July 10th.

Sandy Allan
October 21, 1926 - July 10, 2015

Sandy passed away at home, aged 88. Sandy was predeceased by his beloved wife, Marguerite (Gunton). He was a much-loved father to Cynthia Norrie (Alastair) and to Paul (Maggie) and a devoted grandfather to Elizabeth, Kate and Michael Allan. He was also the last survivor of all his siblings, Jean ("Bet"), Jim and Jack. Sandy was a passionate engineer. His career began with the Defence Research Board of Canada in 1950. In 1958 he became a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto and for the next 29 years he inspired many students with his hands-on, practical approach to education. In 1970 Sandy was retained as a consultant in a high profile motor vehicle accident lawsuit that ultimately lead to a successful second career as a consulting engineer. He later founded Alexander Allan Engineering Services where he became an acknowledged expert in the reconstruction of motor-vehicular accidents. Sandy was born and raised in the east end of Toronto where he attended Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute. He earned both an undergraduate degree (1949) and a Masters Degree (1953) in Applied Science at the University of Toronto. Always generous with his time and many talents, Sandy frequently found himself called upon by both family and friends to build something or to fix something which he always did with focus and determination. Sandy had a particular talent for photography and carpentry. Evidence of his wood-working skill can be found in the homes of family and friends throughout Ontario. While he enjoyed a long retirement, Sandy suffered a stroke in 2004 and had been confined to a wheelchair for nearly 12 years; however, he continued to pursue an active life of the mind and pursued interests in science, technology and business.

My first recollection of "Uncle Sandy" was when I was five years old. He was in town to visit us and my grandmother, his older sister. It was 1976 and Toronto had just acquired an MLB franchise. He came with a bunch of Blue Jays swag; hats, jerseys, pennants, etc. Living in SoCal, we became instant Blue Jays fans. I still am.

He told stories about his travels and his work. He was, at the time, about how old I am now. I remembered thinking, people pay him to do the things he loves to do, pay him to travel around and have a great time doing it. Wow. This is what I want to do. And so, through a long and circuitous path, I set about to do it.

Words can not adequately express the feelings that result from the loss of one such as my Uncle Sandy, and I've been at a loss for words as of late.

Soft and safe to thee, be thy resting-place!
Bright and glorious be thy rising from it!

No comments: