It is with deep sadness that the Department of Chemical Engineering shares the news of the passing of Thomas Zoltan Fahidy on Friday, June 10, 2022, at the age of 87. He started his career at the University of Waterloo in 1965 and was a long-time faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Tom had a distinguished career and left an indelible mark on the University of Waterloo, its faculty and the students he taught.
He was a recipient of the Order of Canada for his work and was Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Chemical Institute of Canada, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Electrochemical Society. He also served two terms as associate editor of the Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering.
Tom was known for his kindness and sense of humour and is remembered fondly by all his colleagues, many of whom reflect on their memories of him.
I have fond memories of Tom coming through every two weeks or so. He would come in to pick up his mail. He would stop and chat with anyone available in his/their language of choice, and then he would visit various offices and keep us up to date with his jokes. He was a very kind man.
I will always remember Tom Fahidy for his jokes (nobody would laugh as nobody seemed to understand the punch line upon first delivery!), and for his kindness (when he informed me about my first NSERC Discovery grant in 1986, as he was a member of the grant selection committee). Tom and I wrote and presented (EERC/UW and CSChE conference 1989) probably the first article on educational matters (software evaluation) from the department. Rest in peace, TZF!
He was a sweet easygoing person and would have a joke of the day for you.
As a PhD student, I took a grad course on Numerical Methods and Modeling from Tom Fahidy in 1991. Until then I had no idea that you could make jokes out of finite differences (or that magnetohydrodynamics was something worth studying). Years later, I found out he could tell these jokes in seven languages! May you rest in peace Tom, for you brightened many lives.
I was in a course that Tom taught at Waterloo, Process Dynamics and Control 1, in my 4A term in Fall 1995, and was inspired enough by him to also take the optional Process Dynamics and Control 2, in 4B. It was through those two courses, and lengthy conversations with Tom that I chose to continue with further study and research in Systems and Control Theory in graduate school. In a very real sense, it was Tom that motivated me to study the subjects that so obviously excited him, and that he taught so well. Later of course Tom and I became colleagues, and friends (and sometimes competitors for who could tell the worst jokes!), and we continued as friends even after I left engineering for another vocation.
Tom gave me very interesting gifts – one year he gave me a pair of self-sharpening scissors – a very practical gift - I still use them today for sewing. Another year he gave us teapot cozies - something a little ‘old fashioned’ but made me think with fond memories of having tea with my grandparents. Tom would visit the staff offices when he came to campus – he usually had a joke to share. Some were very cute; some were a little thought-provoking but he always left me with a smile. He will be greatly missed.
Denise Mueller Undergraduate Advisor & Program Department of Chemical Engineering
Tom leaves behind his four children, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. We join them to celebrate his life, which was very well-lived. He will be deeply missed.