JARS v64n3 - In Memoriam: Willem Anton Morsink

In Memoriam: Willem Anton Morsink
Matthew Hilgerdenaar

Willem (Bill) Morsink was born on January 19, 1936, on the island of Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies. He endured the occupation by the Japanese during WW II as a young boy and after the war, the family moved to the Netherlands where Willem had his formative schooling. He arrived in Canada on April 11, 1958, at the age of 22, after which his ship was sold as iron scrap in Quebec City - the reason why he stayed in Canada. From 1958 till 1965 he worked for the Department of Lands and Forests while completing his B.Sc. (Forestry) at the University of Toronto (U of T). As part of his thesis research, he developed the concept of "Dormant Degree Days" for estimating hardiness in trees. From 1967 to 1974, Bill was a lecturer and assistant Professor of forestry at the U of T.

Willem Morsink was a pioneer in Urban Forestry and worked in this field for the cities of Windsor, Toronto and North York, Ontario. He was a passionate naturalist who volunteered with the Ontario Urban Forestry Council and the Rhododendron Society of Canada. He was active with many projects involving advocacy for trees and the environment, was an avid grower of rhododendrons and trees and published many articles on rhododendrons. He enjoyed outdoor activities such as gardening, bird watching, hiking and camping, activities which he continued doing until September 2009. Bill was also a lover of jazz and classical music. Some of the Baroque concerts I shared with him and his dear wife, Judy. He had a keen sense of humour and a love for his family. Upon asking him why he would be away for a week or so to either Alberta or Greece, his reply was: "Just baby sitting!" for his daughters Sharon and Coreen's children. When asked what were his babysitter's fees, it was "Love, I suppose."

Willem received the ARS Bronze Medal from the Toronto Chapter of the Rhododendron Society of Canada. Willem passed away on March 23, 2010 after a short battle with cancer.