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Remembering Biology instructor Frank Brookfield

Monday, December 17, 2018

Frank Brookfield and Peter Russell with a fossil of Parasaurolophus.Frank Brookfield (left) and Peter Russell with a Parasaurolophus fossil.

University of Waterloo retiree J. Frank Brookfield passed away on November 29th. Brookfield was a long-time instructor in the Biology department and also served as the biology curator of the Earth Sciences Museum.

"He was a dear friend and a dedicated teacher and educator who valued his students in the vertebrate world (both current and past worlds)," recalls Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Barry Warner.

Brookfield wrote and illustrated several articles of zoological interest for the University of Waterloo’s newspaper, The Gazette, and produced content for the Biology department’s Biologue publication.

His legacy at the University of Waterloo includes donations that funded the J. Frank Brookfield Scholarships for Excellence in Biology, which are awarded annually to outstanding undergraduate students enrolled in their second year in a Biology program, as well as the Brookfield Research Instructorship in the Department of Pure Mathematics, which enhanced research intensity in Pure Mathematics and provided young researchers with the opportunity to diversify and intensify their research capacity.

Earth Sciences Museum curator Peter Russell and Frank Brookfield pose with the assembled Cave Bear skeleton towering over them.Brookfield also located and donated a number of fossil specimens to the Earth Sciences Museum, including a complete 2.7m-tall skeleton of an extinct Cave Bear, which he purchased at auction and donated to the University, where it is still on display. Other donations included a fossil of Captorhinus Aguti, an extinct species of reptile, a meteorite, and contributions towards the recently-completed Highgate Mastodon exhibit that published an app on the Apple App Store.

"One of his favourite items in the Biology side of the museum was the passenger pigeon and the Echidna, an Australian monotreme," recalls Peter Russell, curator emeritus of the Earth Sciences Museum. "He was a keen photographer, and enjoyed visiting natural history museums in the USA and Europe."

He was a member of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, and a President’s Circle Member Royal Patron’s Circle member of the Royal Ontario Museum, as well as a member of the American Museum of Natural History and the World Wildlife Fund.

Brookfield retired from the University in 1994, though he maintained his connection to the University through the administration of a distance education course in Biology for several years, and was a life member of the University of Waterloo Retiree’s Association (UWRA).

Frank enjoyed being part of the annual Science Open House, sitting next to the Cave Bear and talking to visitors of all ages. He participated in open house events as recently as October 2018.

For his generosity and continued support of the University, Brookfield was named a member of the 1957 Society, which recognizes donors whose cumulative gifts have reached $100,000 or more.

A memorial service will be held at the Graham A. Giddy Funeral Homes-Waterloo Chapel at 617 King St. N. in Waterloo on Wednesday, December 19th at 11:00 a.m.

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