HILLS, Dr. Leonard (Len) V.

January 3, 1933 – August 4, 2013

Len was born in Judah, Alberta on January 3, 1933, and passed away peacefully in Calgary, Alberta on August 04, 2013, with his beloved wife of 53 years, Marian, at his side. Len is also survived by his daughter Maureen Hills-Urbat (Rick), son John (Colleen), grandchildren Walter, Rebecca, Carlee, and Leonard, his brother Percy (Margaret) of Kelowna, B.C., and many nieces and nephews. Len was an accomplished scholar, having received a B.Sc. with honours in Geology in 1960 and a M.Sc. in Geology in 1962 at the University of British Columbia. He continued his academic pursuits with the completion of his Ph.D in Geology (Palynology) from the University of Alberta in 1965. Much of Len’s career was spent as a Professor of Geology at the University of Calgary and his academic achievements were numerous. Dr. Hills received the Order of the University of Calgary in 2003 for his exemplary and distinguished service to the University. He served as the President of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists in 1979, and was an Adjunct Research Scientist to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, and a Fellow of The Arctic Institute of North America. Len influenced many with his incredible breadth of knowledge and his true passion for teaching which was surpassed only by his love for his family. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
The family would like to thank the staff and doctors of the Chinook Hospice for their care and compassion. A private family memorial was held in Cochrane, AB. Those wishing to make memorial tributes in Len’s name may direct them to Chinook Hospice, 1261 Glenmore Trail SW, Calgary Alberta, T2V 4Y8.

  1. On 10/08/2013 at 7:16 am Thomas D. Demchuk Said:

    Dear Marion and Family:
    It was with great sadness that I recently heard Len was ill, and greater sadness to hear that he had passed away. My heartfelt condolences to you all. Len was a great inspiration to me and I will always carry a special place in my heart for him, for all the patience and guidance he gave to me during my years in Calgary. He was a very special person, and I know he will be missed by everyone who had an opportunity to know him.
    With Sadness:
    Dr. Thomas D. Demchuk
    Houston, TX

  2. On 10/08/2013 at 2:19 pm ILENE DUSKA Said:

    I was saddened to read Dr. Hills obituary. As an adult student at U of C I took a class from Dr Hills. I enjoyed his class and his field trip. I will never forget his Birkenstocks which he always wore. In the winter he wore woolen socks in his Birkenstocks. He was a true professor!

    Also he did a prehistoric animal dig in the Ghost Pine/Three Hills area where I was born and we shared a few stories of the area and the people he met there. I have fond memories of him.

    My sympathy to his family.

    Ilene Duska BSc 1994

  3. On 10/08/2013 at 8:33 pm Bill Laidlaw Chem UofC Said:

    Dear Marian,
    Thank you, Marian for helping me say good bye to Len . He was truly a good man. I will miss his knowledge, his compassion and the wonderful conversations – complaints and victories!
    I offer condolences to all of his family.
    Bill Laidlaw

  4. On 11/08/2013 at 5:56 am Lionel Jackson Said:

    Dear Marian and family,

    I was deeply saddened to learn of Len’s passing. I can’t begin to express the debt that I owe Len as a supervisor, mentor and steadfast friend. Meeting Len and having him take me on as a student was a pivotal moment of my life. He was always someone I could turn to for direction years after I finished my PhD. Words cannot express how much I will miss him.

    Lionel Jackson

  5. On 11/08/2013 at 10:14 am Michael Wilson Said:

    Dear Marian and Family,

    Len was a truly remarkable man who changed many lives, my own included. He was a natural educator in every word and action, and I often sought his advice. His encouragement gave strength and confidence to his students, and we always — and happily — continued as his students even as we also became his colleagues. His role as educator and mentor will be always remembered, always treasured. My sincere sympathy to a remarkable family who gave him so much strength, support, and love over the years.

    Michael Wilson

  6. On 12/08/2013 at 7:12 am Neil Mirau Said:

    Dear Marian and Family
    My sincere condolences to you and your family. I cannot express how grateful I was to have known and worked with Len. He was a remarkable person and his knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge with great humour and passion made him a star with all of us here at Arrow. His leadership, energy, enthusiasm and patience were incredible. He is and will continue to be a role model for me and undoubtedly many others. Among the many memories I will hold dear is the great lunch and conversation you, Len and I had at that little restaurant in Cochrane not that long ago. I have told many stories to my family and friends about Len and they all have expressed great sadness at his passing. Our thoughts are with you.

  7. On 12/08/2013 at 7:58 am Don Boras Said:

    I met Len over 20 years ago when he sat on my thesis defence committee, and worked with him numerous times over the past decade on various archaeological/palaeontological surveys. His knowledge was expansive, matched only by his intellectual passion and his willingness to share – in the field and over a beer. I am grateful and richer for having known him.

    In memory and appreciation I’ve emailed a short video and some photographs from a survey I did with Len in March 2012 near Medicine Hat doing what he loved to do.

    My sincere condolences to Len’s family.

    Don Boras

  8. On 12/08/2013 at 8:05 am Joan Tittemore Said:

    Marian and family,
    I have been greatly saddened by the loss of Len. In 1980, I took a half-year palynology course with Len as a visiting student at the U. of C. About 12 years later, I had the great fortune to bump in to Len again at the university. Not only did he remember my name, he remembered my strengths and weaknesses during my course work. Since then I have, from time to time, had wonderful chats with Len over coffee or lunch or just in the grocery store in Cochrane! The depth of his knowledge and experience in the earth sciences and his willingness to share that freely with others was absolutely incredible. Even more incredible was his selfless interest in helping his students and colleagues identify and reach their true professional and personal potential. He was always positive, humorous, honest, ethical and unstoppable. He was one of a kind, one of my heroes and I will always hold him dear. My heartfelt condolences to you all.

  9. On 12/08/2013 at 8:32 am Dave Eberth Said:

    Dear Marian and family,

    My sincerest condolences on Len’s passing and your loss. Len was a true renaissance man with so many interests and such a breadth of knowledge on so many topics. In many ways he was the go-to-person for background information on almost every project that I worked on in Alberta. He reviewed and improved many of my research papers, and his wonderful sense of humour and irony were always a welcome treat in our conversations. For those reasons alone I will always remember him with great fondness and appreciation. His impact on the Tyrrell Museum was profound. Not only did he supervise many of the research and education staff at the Tyrrell when they were students, but more importantly, he readily shared his opinions about scientific opportunities and directions to be pursued as the museum was taking flight in the late 1980s. He will be missed by all of us here at the Tyrrell Museum. Best wishes to you all.

    Dave Eberth

  10. On 12/08/2013 at 8:46 am Philip Currie Said:

    Dear Marian and Family. I was very sad to hear of Len’s passing. He had a huge influence on the development of today’s palaeontological community in Alberta through his wide interests, his research, his mentoring and teaching, and through his many friendships. He will be deeply missed… Philip Currie

  11. On 12/08/2013 at 9:56 am Kathryn Reese-Taylor Said:

    Dear Marian and Family,

    I just received news of Len’s passing and am deeply saddened. He was a valued colleague and a wonderful mentor for our graduate students. I will miss his presence in our department.

    My condolences to your family.

    Kathryn Reese-Taylor

  12. On 12/08/2013 at 11:09 am Don and Nell Jacques Said:

    The Family of Dr. Hills :
    We are very sorry for your loss. Dr Hills made a positive difference in so many lives.
    Don and Nell Jacques

  13. On 12/08/2013 at 11:52 am Peter Dawson Said:

    Dear Mariam and Family,

    I was very saddened to hear of Len’s passing. I will miss him greatly,both as a colleague and as a friend/mentor. Len was a great help to me during the years I was NSTP chairman, and I was constantly amazed and impressed by the dedication and time he put into helping students who used this program to fund their graduate research. Every fall, Len would set aside time to work with students, helping them craft their proposals and budgets, as well as provide friendly words of encouragement and advice. We also spend many hours talking about his work in the Canadian North. I’ll miss you, Len.

    Peter Dawson

  14. On 13/08/2013 at 7:23 am Brandon Beierle Said:

    Dear Marian and Family,

    I am very sorry for your loss. Len was a great scholar, mentor and friend. Although he will be missed, his legacy will live on through his family and his students.

    Brandon Beierle

  15. On 13/08/2013 at 10:20 am Marjorie and Wayne Said:

    Marjorie and Wayne Brideaux wish to express their condolences to the family on the passing of Len Hills. He was a major part of the community of Calgary and Canadian palynologists and his knowledge and expertise will be missed and live on in his publications. Dr. Hills was a direct link to McMaster’s Dr. Norrman Radforth who mentored several Canadian palynologists including myself and beginning with Dr, Colin McGregor and Dr. Glenn Rouse who mentored Dr. Hills. Len always played an important role in his chosen field and in the community and his passing will sadden all who knew him.

    Dr. Wayne W. Brideaux
    Marjorie Brideaux

  16. On 14/08/2013 at 10:53 am Ian Spooner Said:

    Dear Marian and Family,
    I am very sorry to hear about Len’s passing and wish to send my condolences. He was a huge help to me during my time at The University of Calgary, always a friend in a time of need! He will be missed by the many, many students and colleagues that he touched during his long and very productive career. A wonderful man, a careful and thoughtful scientist, a great loss.

    Ian Spooner
    Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

  17. On 14/08/2013 at 7:43 pm Louise Klatzel-Mudry Said:

    Dear Marion and Family,
    The thousands of hours Len spent in geology labs or the field were a remarkable gift to the 100’s of students and colleagues he inspired. He taught me over 30 years ago and through the years we still had coffee together when we could at the U of C. His life long association with students is a testament to his generosity as a teacher, passion for his science and just being a great guy! I was lucky to know him.
    Louise Klatzel-Mudry
    Calgary, Alberta

  18. On 15/08/2013 at 7:49 am Ed Klovan Said:

    Dear Marion,
    I apologize for being so late sending this – I just discovered the web site.

    I appreciate your cooperation during these last, stress-full weeks. I am so glad I was able to visit with Len and treasure seeing him so calm and still, the ultimate professional, working on his paper; a wonderful last memory.

    Len, Peter Gretner and I all started working at the U of C on the same day in July of 1966. It was the beginning of a long and lasting relationship as both friends and colleagues. I knew only one man who equaled Len’s breadth in the natural sciences and that was Len’s hero, Dr.Charlie Stelck. It was a mutual admiration. Len was also one of the most sincere people in the Department. I very much appreciated this sincerity when I ended up being his boss for a while; he always let me know ,in no uncertain terms, where he stood on a subject. I appreciated his support and the sincerity of his criticisms.

    I could never fathom how he managed to find the time for all the varied activities that he became involved with. He was a great teacher, superb researcher, a very active Editor for the CSPG and President as well. He did all of these with dedication and expertise.
    But, above all, he was a dear friend and nice man.

    He is undoubtedly the last of the true Naturalist in Canadian Science. I feel honored that I was his colleague for many years during the golden age of the Department. He has made many contributions to the University, Geology and students and this will be his proud and lasting legacy.

    Dorothy and I send you and the children our deepest sympathy.

    Ed Klovan

  19. On 16/08/2013 at 7:22 am Jon Dudley Said:

    Dear Marian, Maureen, John and family

    I was deeply saddened to hear of Len’s passing – husband, father, and to me, a dear dear friend and mentor.

    I will forever treasure the times spent with Len starting way back when I was a new graduate student. Some of those occasions were shared with a young John and Maureen, exploring some of Alberta’s hidden places and watching Len do what he enjoyed most, learning about, and enjoying the many wonders of the natural world.

    As with many others, I will forever be indebted to Len for teaching me so much about science, teaching, friendship, dignity, integrity, and the plain joys of life. So much of what I enjoy doing today I learned from Len and I will always do my best to live up to the standards he set on how to live life.

    Thank you to Len for so much, and to you Marian, John and Maureen for having shared him with us.
    As I travel through the Arctic over the next few weeks I will honour his memory with a toast to the land.

    Jon & Karen Dudley

  20. On 17/08/2013 at 5:55 pm Chris Shank Said:

    I was never a student of Len’s, but he was nevertheless a mentor and an inspiration to me. I admired his broad interests, his deep knowledge, his intellectual energy and his ability to work with, and befriend, people from many disciplines. There are many, many of us who will miss him.
    Chris Shank

  21. On 18/08/2013 at 12:04 pm David Shackleton Said:

    Dear Marion and family – it was with deep sadness that I just heard of Len’s passing. I first met Len in 1969 when I took his grad course on Pleistocene geology beginning a lifelong interest in this subject both personal and professional. This was due almost exclusively to Len’s enthusiasm and caring for his students in addition to his teaching ability. He was also stimulating to us students and later colleagues through his broad interests beyond geology. Once again his infectious enthusiasm shone through.
    I as with so many others will miss him, but will always remember him whenever I am in the field.
    Best wishes to you all
    David Shackleton

  22. On 19/08/2013 at 7:28 am Caroline Williams Said:

    Dear Marion and family,

    Len was such an inspiration to me throughout my academic and professional career. His ability to encourage and guide students was unequalled. In a time when so many earth scientists had just one single area of interest and expertise, Len showed us that “Earth Science” was more than just the rocks. He taught us about the whole of nature and the environment, and how the entire ecosystem was linked to those rocks. What marvelous lessons he taught us all! He will be deeply missed, but his teachings and soul will live on forever.

    Caroline Williams

  23. On 19/08/2013 at 9:10 pm Emily Frampton Said:

    Dear Marian and family,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You have my deepest sympathies.

    To me, Len was a teacher, mentor and friend. It was a privilege to know him. He will be missed.

    Emily Frampton

  24. On 22/08/2013 at 8:22 am David Morrow Said:

    My condolences to the family of Len Hills. I knew Len as an acquaintance since 1974 and, as others have said, was always impressed with his forthright manner. His work as a mentor to his many students and associates, such as those at the Geological Survey of Canada, stand as a legacy to Canadian geology.

    David Morrow (Geological Survey of Canada)

  25. On 23/08/2013 at 10:23 am Jared Fath Said:

    Dear Marian and family – I was deeply saddened to learn of Len’s passing several weeks ago. Len was an incredible mentor and friend to me over the years. I was especially grateful to him for taking me on as an Honours student near the end of his career. I well remember the times I spent with him talking not only about geology and what I was doing, but about life itself. He was an incredible mentor. I think what impressed me the most was the amount of times he phoned me and took the time to keep in touch even after I’d moved on to different things. I’ll never forget that, or the time he and Marian stored my car for six weeks while I camped out in the Arctic Islands. He was a true blessing to have in my life and stands out to me as one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever met. He will be missed.

  26. On 26/08/2013 at 6:15 pm Norman and Dawn Turner Said:

    Marian, Maureen, John and Family – We were very sorry to hear about Len’s passing. Our heartfelt sympathies to you all during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  27. On 27/08/2013 at 3:29 pm Elizabeth Davies Said:

    Dear Marion and family, David passed on the very sad news of Len’s passing. I met him and you through David and remember when you moved to your home on the hill at Cochrane. It seemed to be on it’s own at the time but you found a great new interest in dogs due to the many trips away that Len used to make. I have been on my own for 14yrs now and so know how you will be feeling with the loss of Len. I am sure your family are a great help to you and I hope you are keeping well. All the very best to you and your family. Elizabeth Davies

  28. On 02/09/2013 at 7:51 am Colleen Hughes Said:

    Dear Marion and Family,
    My heartfelt sympathies to all of you. I was one of the many students that Len helped with their projects. I so appreciated his willingness to share his vast amount of knowledge. I wish you much peace and compassion. Colleen Hughes

  29. On 30/09/2013 at 3:30 pm Todd Sexton Said:

    Dear Marion and Family:
    John, I am sorry to hear you lost your father, I only have memories of the times when your Dad drove us to hockey games, and the times we undoubtably interupted his quiet times at home with the roar of our motorcycles.
    It’s apparent your father touched many people, his legacy will live in those he touched forever.
    All the very best to you and your family, Todd Sexton.

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