McMaster University
Passing of Dr. Gerry King Print E-mail
It is with sadness that I bring news of the passing of Dr. Gerry King on October 30. Gerry passed away in his 82nd year at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington.

Gerry was an internationally renowned spectroscopist who was perhaps best known for a textbook that became the most widely used senior undergraduate spectroscopy text in Canada, the US and Great Britain. I used the text as an undergraduate at UBC.

Gerry was one four faculty members hired in the late 1950s who, together with a number of subsequent hires in the 1960s, really made the McMaster Chemistry department one of the strongest Chemistry departments in Canada. The other three faculty hires from the late 1950’s were Ron Gillespie, David MacLean and Ian Spenser. Gerry served as department chair from 1978 to 1981.

Gerry was an innovative spectroscopist who pioneered a number of techniques and made a host of original high resolution observations, primarily of diatomics. Many theses and publications were devoted to the halogens, particularly iodine. He started recording spectra in 1952 on the then innovative technology called punch cards. In mid-career Gerry made the ‘shift’ from classical long pathlength tube systems (up to 5 m long) to laser-based spectroscopy methods. Gerry was always a leader in his field.

Gerry smoked for many years and was renowned for the size of cigarette ashes he could develop at the end of a cigarette.

Many of you would not have known Gerry because he retired from the department in 1990 and lived in Burlington until his passing last Friday. Senior faculty and emeriti in Physics and Astronomy will remember Gerry fondly.

Visitations will be held at Smith’s Funeral Home, 1167 Guelph Line, Burlington (one stoplight north of the QEW) on today from 7-9 and on Tuesday from 3-5 and 7-9. A funeral will be celebrated at St. Matthew-on-the-Plains Anglican Church, 126 Plains Road East, Burlington on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 1:30 p.m.


Brian E. McCarry, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Chemistry & Chemical Biology
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