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John Balatinecz 1937-2017

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John Balatinecz

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of John Balatinecz who died August 6th in the Toronto area. 

'Big John', as he was popularly known, was one of the Hungarian foresters who came to Canada in 1956 when the Sopron Forestry Faculty and students moved en masse from Hungary to Vancouver and the campus of UBC.  Following graduation there, he pursued Masters' degree studies in Seattle, which is where he met his wife Toni.  He gained his doctorate at the University of Toronto and joined the Faculty of Forestry there in 1966 as professor of wood science.  John continued in that position there until retirement and afterwards as professor emeritus and a consultant.  Many students, graduate and undergraduate, benefited from his mentoring.

A colleague of Louis Zsuffa, who was chair of the Poplar Council of Canada for many years, John was active in the Council in the 1980s and 1990s including serving on the Board of Directors and representing the poplar products and utilization sector.  He was also active on the International Poplar Commission of FAO, chairing the Working Party on Harvesting and Utilization in the 1980s and 1990s.  Most recently, he was the author of the chapter on ‘Properties, Products and Utilization’ in 'Poplars and Willows: Trees for Society and the Environment', the book published by CABI and FAO in 2014. 

John Balatinecz will be remembered as a kind and gentle man, a gifted teacher and mentor, a determined supporter and promoter of causes he believed in, and above all a devoted husband to his wife Toni who predeceased him several years ago.  He is survived by his son, Ted, 3 grand-children and 2 great-grandchildren, and will be remembered by his many friends around the world.

 The funeral took place in Woodbridge, Ontario on August 11th.  For further information, see