Gerald W. Farnell

Gerald W. Farnell – Professor Emeritus

With great sadness, we announce the passing of Gerald Farnell at the Verdun General Hospital on April 30, 2015.

The son of Alice (Turner) and Jack Farnell, Jerry was born in Toronto on August 31, 1925. He was a proud and grateful Canadian who had an abiding affection for Montreal and the province of Quebec, his home for the last 65 years of his life.

After graduating from Danforth Technical High School in 1942, he served in the Canadian Army and began his studies at the University of Toronto as a member of the Army Officer Training Course. In 1950, having earned a Master of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jerry arrived at McGill as a lecturer and PHD Graduate Student.

While at McGill he served as Professor of Engineering Physics and Electrical Engineering, including terms as Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department (from 1967 until 1972) and Dean of the Engineering Faculty (from 1974 until 1984). In 1991, he retired from McGill as Professor Emeritus.

During his decades at McGill, Jerry gained a reputation as a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher. In collaboration with colleagues and graduate students, he registered three patents, published 93 papers and earned international recognition for his research on the propagation of Acoustical Surface Waves in anisotropic materials leading to the development of radio frequency filters, now ubiquitous in mobile phones.

As a Nuffield Fellow he spent 1960-61 at the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford and became a Fellow of IEEE in 1970. From 1972 to ’73, he was Engineering Consultant for Thomson CSF in Cagnes sur Mer and Visiting Professor in the Laboratories d’Electrooptique at the Faculté des Sciences in Nice, France. Elected president of the Ultrasonics Society, he served from 1988-1989, received the IEEE Achievement award in 1991, the Distinguished Service Award of the Society in 1997 and the Lord Rayleigh Award in 2001. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1996. Jerry was one of the first to give a course on “semiconductors and transistor electronics” at a Canadian University.

Although he was left with a bothersome knee, Jerry had fond memories of playing high school football, recreational basketball at U of T and sailing at the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club. In later years, he continued his lifelong joy of reading and revived an interest in playing duplicate bridge. Remembered as a talented “doodler” during professional meetings, in retirement he bestowed among family and friends a noteworthy number of his impressive acrylic paintings.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 66 years, Norma (McRae); his daughter Sandra (John Peacock); his son Douglas (Anne Tchipeff); his sister Doreen (Al Thomsen); grandsons Anthony Farnell (Samantha Guedes) and Alexander Farnell (Annie Rivard); granddaughters Erika Moisl (Remi Lacroix) and Katherine Farnell (Maxwell Insley); and great-grandson Evan Insley. His presence among us will be sorely missed but the memory of him as a cherished husband, a devoted father and grandfather, a loving brother and a loyal friend will remain in our hearts forever.

Minor editing of the version published in The Montreal Gazette from May 5 to May 9, 2015