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DR. G. HERBERT LAWLER Obituary pic


Born: Jun 13, 1923

Date of Passing: May 02, 2019

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June 13, 1923 - May 2, 2019

It is of course with great sadness that we announce Herb's passing but we'll always remember him for his fine sense of humour and happy demeanour. Herb was a kind, bright, worldly man interested in almost everything.
Herb was born in Kingston in 1923. He attended Regiopolis College and then Queen's University, where he was president of the Arts and Science Society, a star running back, point guard and track athlete. A true Queen's man he later became the president of the Alumni Association. Herb went on to do his Masters at Western where he also played football. Herb finished his academic studies at the University of Toronto with a PhD in Zoology (Ichthyology). While at the U of T he had an office in the Royal Ontario Museum, which he loved.
Herb met his match and married her in 1947. Betty, who sadly passed away in 2004, was the beautiful, intelligent and talented love of his life. Together they had five children. John (who died in 2005), David (June Horsburgh and sons John and Andrew), Ann (Fred Vatnsdal), Elizabeth (sons Fraser, Gordon and Robbie Bruce), Jane (son Riley Black) and John Lyons and his daughter Teresa. The family shared wonderful times at Lake of the Woods where in later years Herb and Betty would spend their entire summers.
Next to his family, Herb's career was uppermost in his life. (Some might jokingly say it was the other way around). Herb began his career with Fisheries and Oceans in 1950. He was eventually appointed Director General of the department for the Central and Arctic Regions. He ended his career in 1988 as the acting Assistant Deputy Minister in Ottawa and that same year was named Scientist Emeritus by the department.
An important part of Herb's early career was his work running a 20-year long research project at Heming Lake in Northern Manitoba. The family, along with Gord and Rose McRae and their family, spent summers at the lake. Early on Herb, Betty and the newly born John spent the entire winter there as well, an accomplishment of which Herb was particularly proud.
A sabbatical in 1968 took Herb and his family to Stockholm for a year. The experience had a lasting impression on them all. This was not the only time Herb travelled for work. Herb spent significant time in Thailand, Central America and travelled extensively throughout the Canadian Arctic. Although none of the children pursued careers in science they excelled at science fairs. Who else could find pickled lamprey in a desk drawer or a tub of live salamanders in the basement.
After retirement Herb continued to contribute to Fisheries and Oceans and would still go out to his office at the campus of the University of Manitoba. A crowning achievement of Herb's career was his role in the founding and managing of the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium an organization dedicated to the study and protection of the health of Lake Winnipeg.
On Herb's very last day, just shy of his 96th birthday, he was treated to a luncheon with a group of much younger colleagues with whom he worked at Fisheries. He was a respected colleague and beloved boss to the end.
But it was not all work and no play - Herb was a longtime Bomber, RWB and MTC season ticket holder, loved watching golf and curling and played Scrabble every day winning many more games than he lost. The family came together for Sunday dinners where Herb - and football - were the main attractions. Cared for with immense love by his children and the wonderful Fred Vatnsdal, Herb was able to remain in his home until his passing.
By example, Herb taught us many valuable life lessons. Be humble, be appreciative, stay interested, favour the colour blue to bring out the blue in your eyes and above all, always look on the bright side of life. We will all miss him.
Flowers are gratefully declined, but if you would like, donations to the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium would be appreciated.
A Celebration of Life will be held early evening Saturday, June 8, 2019. Friends and family will be contacted with details.

Cremation & Funeral Planning
204-295-5408 –

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on May 11, 2019

Condolences & Memories (6 entries)

  • What a beautiful write up regarding a beautiful man. We were so lucky have so many visits and dinners over the years. We all admired the endless support you guys provided to your Dad-- he was so clearly loved and cherished. What an amazing and accomplished life. - Posted by: Janice & Arthur & family (Friends) on: May 19, 2019

  • It was with great sadness to learn of Herb’s passing. He was a great friend & colleague of my husband, Dennis. Dennis & Herb enjoyed many years of football games, frequent lunches, & in the later years comfortable visits on Herb’s porch over a glass of scotch. Dennis & I enjoyed many visits to “the Camp” at Lake of the Woods with Herb & Betty where we had fun & participated in many projects as the Cottage was being developed. Following our move to Kelowna in 2012, Herb maintained telephone contact with us providing encouragement & support. My children & I share your loss and will cherish many happy memories. - Posted by: Carol Cauvin (Friend) on: May 16, 2019

  • It is so hard when you lose someone so dear to your heart. May it bring some small measure of comfort to you that I share in your grief and your loss. Jane you were always there for me at work when I needed help. Thank you again. If there is anything you need I would be only too glad to return your kindness. My thought and prayers are with you and your family. - Posted by: Diane Miniely (Jane's retired co-worker) on: May 15, 2019

  • I will always have very fond memories of my associations with Herb while I was employed as a biologist with DFO at the FWI, especially after his retirement. He was a true mentor always willing to contribute his knowledge to assist with any professional issue that I might have. We both shared a special interest in Port Dover as he did his post graduate research there and I was able to fill him in on the latest news of the fishing industry as I am a part time resident. Herb, you will be sorely missed. You were a great friend and mentor to many of us young biologists. - Posted by: Dennis Wright (Former DFO associate ) on: May 12, 2019

  • I am very saddened to read of Herb’s passing. He was a dear friend of my Mom. I have fond childhood memories of Herb coming for lunch when you lived out of town, playing in the “secret” passages of the Kingsway home and much later running into Betty and Herb at Winner’s. He was a very kind, brilliant and caring man. My condolences to David, Ann, Elizabeth and Jane. Barbara Dixon - Posted by: Barbara Dixon (Family friend) on: May 11, 2019

  • I worked with (for) Herb for 3 summers while a student at the University of Manitoba. These years were memorable and formative as Herb was a very effective manager but also a mentor. I will never forget his qualities of leadership and his personal qualities of kindness, sensitivity and intelligence. I continued a friendship with him as I went on in a much different profession ... I will be forever grateful for his contribution. - Posted by: Ed Buller (Summer student, Heming Lake Research Project) on: May 11, 2019

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