Dr. Mary Eileen Stapleton Spencer, B.A., MSc., Ph.D, F.C.I.C., F.R.S.C., C.M.
Mary passed away gently and peacefully on December 18th at the Edmonton Continuing Care Centre.
She is survived by her daughter Susan, 13 nephews and nieces and many great- and great-great-nephews and nieces. She is predeceased by her loving husband of 75 years, Henry (“Hank”) Spencer, sister Etta Mae Reikie, and brother Dr. Jack H. Stapleton.
Mary was an incredible academic, researcher, and teacher. She received her B.A. with High Honours (Chemistry) from the University of Saskatchewan in 1945, her M.Sc. (Chemistry) from Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania) in 1946, and her Ph.D. (Agricultural Chemistry) from the University of California (Berkeley) in 1951. She came to Edmonton and the University of Alberta in 1953 and remained at the university for over 35 years, rising to the rare rank of University Professor and Head of the Plant Science Department. Always a trailblazer and champion for women in science, she was one of the first two women appointed to the National Research Council in 1970. While continuing teaching, mentoring graduate and post-doctoral students, doing her own research, and publishing dozens of articles and papers, she also served on numerous other councils, committees, and boards, including the International Council of Scientific Unions, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta, the Minister’s Advisory Committee on National Centres of Excellence, the Royal Society of Canada, the Premier’s Council on Science and Technology, as President of the Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists, and as Chairman of the National Advisory Committee in Biology – to name but a few. She received recognition as an international authority on ethylene, its production, and its effect on the environment, and she lectured and gave papers on the subject at conferences and symposia all over the world. In 2002, she was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada.
Brilliant as all of that was, her primary joy was in interacting with her students, many of whom have gone on to brilliant careers of their own. Their success meant the world to her, and to this day many of them credit her with setting their careers off on a solid – and sometimes unexpected – path.
On a more personal note, Mary was an avid swimmer (a mile every morning for 40+ years!), enthusiastic member of the U of A Early Birds fitness group, gracious hostess of multitudes of dinner parties and discussion groups, dedicated animal lover, happy though haphazard gardener, and a gentle and humble soul. She’ll be missed.
A celebration of Mary’s Life will be held in conjunction with that of her husband, Hank, in May 2023.
Donations in her memory may be made to the University of Alberta’s Agriculture, Food & Nutritional Science Fund.
Nous offrons nos plus sincères condoléances à la famille et aux amis de Mary Eileen Spencer 2022 et espérons que leur souvenir pourra être une source de réconfort pendant cette période difficile. Vos pensées et vos mots aimables sont grandement appréciés.
Foster & Mc Garvey funeral homes
Décès pour la Ville:Edmonton, Province: Alberta