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Born: Aug 25, 1927

Date of Passing: Jul 21, 2016

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DR. ROBERT JOSEPH SOPER F.A.I.C, F.C.S.S.S August 25, 1927 - July 21, 2016 Bob Soper grew up in Weston, ON the son of Joseph and Myrtle Soper. He was predeceased by his siblings, Mary, Lorna, Jean (all in infancy), Norma, Jack and Keith. He is lovingly remembered by his wife Margaret, daughter Evelyn and son-in-law Mitch Funk, son David, granddaughter Katie, and sister-in-law Patricia Wood. Following the tragic death of his father when he was eleven, Bob did not allow strained circumstances to dissuade him from attending the University of Saskatchewan and McGill University and becoming a university professor. At the Macdonald College campus of McGill University, Bob met Margaret Patterson who became his devoted wife for 59 years. They moved to Winnipeg in 1958 when Bob accepted a position with the University of Manitoba. In 1972 the family moved to Vienna, Austria for three years when Bob joined the Joint Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). While with the UN, Bob supervised research programmes in developing countries. Bob's research career spanned topics in soil chemistry, soil fertility and crop production. He helped develop and use radioactive phosphorus in crop nutrition studies and became a leader in the use of stable isotope-labelled nitrogen to measure nitrogen dynamics in soil and biological nitrogen fixation in legume crops. He developed a soil test for available nitrogen that has been used in Manitoba and most other regions of the North American Great Plains. He also supervised studies in potassium, sulphur and zinc nutrition that are still used in fertilizer recommendations. Bob loved to teach, supervise research and engage with farmers in all parts of the world. He visited Sri Lanka many times and called it his second home. His professional awards included being named a Fellow of the Agriculture Institute of Canada and the Canadian Society of Soil Science, a Distinguished Graduate of the University of Saskatchewan Faculty of Agriculture and receipt of the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal. Upon retirement from the University of Manitoba, the honour of Professor Emeritus was conferred upon him. Bob and Margaret developed an enviable travel schedule but it was the time spent in Barbados with family and friends that he enjoyed most. His family is most grateful for the excellent and compassionate care Bob received from Dr. Tim Ross, the WRHA Home Care Aides, the staff on Unit 2 of Victoria General Hospital and the Simkin Centre. Family and friends will gather to honour Bob's memory at a later date. Donations to the Victoria General Hospital in recognition of their exemplary care would be welcome.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jul 23, 2016

Condolences & Memories (3 entries)

  • Dear Margaret Barb Loveridge sent me the news of Bob's death. I send you my sympathy on a big loss for you. Although I only met Bob once, we shared a lot of memories of people in common. He was an interesting man who contributed a great deal to soil science and to his students. With best wishes to you as you adjust to this loss in your life. Gwenna Moss Nanaimo, BC - Posted by: Gwenna Moss () on: Jul 26, 2016

  • Condolence message from the Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka The executive committee and the members of the Soil Science Society are deeply saddened by the demise of Prof. R.J. Soper who contributed to the advancement of Soil Science in Sri Lanka in general and specifically to the Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka. Around 1978 Canada was the sole supplier of muriate of potash fertilizer to Sri Lanka. CIDA which channeled this commodity under the aid agreement between the two countries also funded a research component for the optimum use of K fertilizers. In 1983 this started with 14 projects related to agriculture with one project comprising entirely for post Graduate Training. where Prof R.J. Soper from the University of Manitoba was named as the CIDA research monitor. Due to the success of the program new project were funded periodically and when the program was concluded in 1992, it has funded a total of 29 projects for a variety coops including rice, other field crops, plantation and horticultural crops. This relationship with the Sri Lankan Soil Scientists continued with the CIDA funded twining project with the Canadian Society of Soil Science and Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka on “Morphology, characterization and classification of Soil of Sri Lanka” which was initiated in 1998 and continued for about 15 years covering the Wet, Intermediate and Dry zones of Sri Lanka. This project was named the SRICANSOL project and Prof. Soper visited Sri Lanka sever times for evaluation. Prof Soper has visited Sri Lanka about Sri Lanka was a second home to Prof Soper where he visited the country 28 times during his carries with CIDA. The executive committee, the members of the Soil Science Society and all the Soil Scientists of Sri Lanka has fond memories’ of Prof. Soper and appreciate his services to the country. We all together send this condolence message to his beloved wife and family members. Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka - Posted by: Soil Science Society of Sri Lanka (Distinguished Collaborator for SRICANSOl Project, Loving friend to all ) on: Jul 26, 2016

  • Sondra and I were greatly saddened to hear of Bob's recent death. We are pleased to have been friends of Bob and Margaret and have enjoyed their hospitality and conversation over the years. It was always interesting to get Bob's take on the many and varied subjects discussed. We extend our sincere condolences to Margaret and the family. Bob will be missed and will long remain in our memory. Ed and Sondra Bruni - Posted by: Ed and Sondra Bruni (Family friends) on: Jul 25, 2016

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