Leo Augustus Behie
11 May, 1944 – 6 June, 2020
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the death of our beloved father, Professor Leo Augustus Behie of Calgary, Alberta; who passed away in the early morning of Saturday, June 6, 2020 at the age of 76. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this spring, Leo was able to die peacefully at home with his hands being gently held by his daughters, followed by a violin duet serenade outside his window as dawn broke. Leo is survived by his two daughters Andrea (Jason) and Lina (Scott); his five grandchildren Jeron, Garnett, Morley, Ruby, and Farley; and his former spouse Alda. He will be greatly missed.
Leo was born in Noranda, Quebec and moved to Timmins, Ontario at an early age. His parents Margaret and Leo Behie Senior (predeceased), had thirteen children of which Leo was the third born and the eldest boy. Regretfully distanced from his siblings, his family would like to acknowledge their condolences to the siblings and their families for their loss.
Leo had a brilliant mind and athletic talent. He was a basketball star at Timmins High and Vocational School from 1959 to 1964 and also competed in track and field (shotput and high jump). He married his high school sweetheart, Alda Behie (nee Miller), in 1965 (div. 2006) and together they pursued post-secondary education at University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Leo played basketball for the Mustangs while completing his Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.Sc) from 1964 to 1968 where he was awarded the Board of Governors Medal for Chemical Engineering for graduating first in his class. His chemical engineering graduate work was awarded with the National Research Council (NRC) Postgraduate Scholarship for his Masters degree (M.E.Sc.) in 1969, as well as for his Ph.D. which he completed in 1972. He remembered fondly his time in England (1972 to 1973) where he was awarded a NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. His next step brought his family back to Canada and for a time he worked for Domtar in Senneville, Quebec.
The height of Dr. Behie’s career is best described by one of his close friends and colleagues, Dr. Arindom Sen, Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering:
“Leo joined the University of Calgary in 1977, and grew to be an influential figure within the institution. He was a dedicated teacher and passionate about research. Leo used his knowledge and expertise in chemical reaction engineering to innovate in diverse areas such as energy and animal cell biotechnology. In 1990, he founded the Pharmaceutical Production Research Facility, and over the next three decades, focused a majority of his efforts in bringing together engineering and medicine by creating and optimizing bioprocesses for the production of vaccines, therapeutic proteins, and most notably, stem cells for use in therapies targeting devastating medical conditions such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. His research innovation and leadership was recognized through multiple awards, including an APEGGA Research Excellence Summit Award and an ASTech Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology Award. He was a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering, a Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada, and became an emeritus professor in our department in 2015.”
The legacy of Dr. Behie will continue through the many individuals he mentored during his career, his students completed in his lifetime twenty-seven Masters’ degrees and twenty Ph.D. degrees. He was especially proud of his abundant publication and citation record. Professor Behie would light up when he talked about his bioreactor technologies, the wide range of application this work has in medical research, and he deeply wanted to reduce the suffering of people with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and cancer among others.
Those who knew Leo will remember his athletic nature, he was an avid runner, tennis player, and did regular circuit training at his university gym later in life. He enjoyed his truck, travelling with his graduate students, reading a dozen books a week, and a variety of music, as well as spending time with his children and grandchildren. He loved the mountains and had an interest in history, his keen mind was always exploring and learning about world events past and present. A Memorial Service will be held late summer 2020 to celebrate the life and career of Dr. Behie. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be informed about day and time, location and to be sent email links for video conferencing.
Leo Augustus Behie
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22 July 2020
Leo and I were classmates and good friends at UWO. We worked together on assignments and labs. Leo was a very hard worker. We kept in touch occasionally over the following years. Our condolences to Andrea and Lina and their families.
22 June 2020
My condolences to Leo's family.
I grew up next to Leo's family on Montgomery Ave. in Timmins Ont..
We were about the same age. I remember his family having the first TV on our block. Even though their family was large Leo invited me in to watch TV in the early evening.
I witnessed Leo's formidable ability on the basket ball court in High School. He was a force to be guarded.
I am not surprised at his many achievements .
Rest in peace, Leo
19 June 2020
It’s with sadness hearing if Leo’s passing. I came to Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in 2002 -2015. I looked after all the Research Projects for the department . Leo became dependant on me to make sure his projects were in order and any charges needing moved were done so in a timely manner. Over the years we had many chats about work and family, we became friends. It was always nice to stop by his office for a quick chat or just a warm smile or friendly wave outside.
Dr. Behie’s research was very interesting and important. He was very good with his students. He was a very good mentor, sharing his knowledge and coaching his students.
He was very proud of his daughters and his grandchildren and enjoyed time spent.
13 June 2020
Dr. Behie was a professor of mine when I went to the University of Calgary, graduating with a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering in 1981. He taught a few of my classes and labs and was the "mentor" for my work group in the project design course in 4th year. I remember Dr. Behie as a brilliant man, very approachable, always having time for his students, and VERY passionate about his work; particularly (at that time, 1980-81) with fluidized bed reactors. I will also always remember him for always wearing turtlenecks - rare was the time we ever saw him in a buttoned shirt. :) He is a great loss to the engineering profession.
10 June 2020
Rest In Peace my brother. Andrea and Lina, thank you for caring for Leo in his last few months. Gordon