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In Memoriam – Dr. Walter Bushuk

October 17, 2017 — 

Dr. Walter Bushuk
Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences
Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences

The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences has learned of the passing of Walter Bushuk on October 14, 2017 at age 88 in Winnipeg, MB.

Walter Bushuk was born on January 2, 1929 in Poland and emigrated with his family to Canada in 1939. They settled on an 80-acre farm in Garland, MB, where, at the age of 10, Walter began his Canadian education knowing only a few words of English. He went on to earn a B.Sc. (Hons.) and M.Sc. in biochemistry at the University of Manitoba and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at McGill University.

Dr. Bushuk’s professional career included positions at the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory, Ogilvie Flour Mills and the Canadian International Grains Institute. He joined the University of Manitoba in 1966 as the Faculty’s first professor of cereal chemistry. In addition to teaching and research spanning the departments of Plant Science and Food Science, he held senior administrative positions at the University, including Head of Department of Plant Science, Associate Vice-President (Research Administration) and Head of Department of Food Science. Dr. Bushuk retired in 1993, but continued research as Professor Emeritus in Food Science.

Dr. Bushuk has long been considered one of the world’s outstanding cereal scientists and a leading authority in dough rheology, protein composition and structure, and breadmaking quality. His pioneering work on the relationship between dough strength and gluten protein composition and structure over 40 years ago is still widely cited today. He, together with his students and scientific colleagues, published over 300 scientific and technical articles and edited several books. Over 40 scientists from 27 countries came to Winnipeg to train with him. Dr. Bushuk was most proud of the legacy of these students, who are now spread around the world working on cereal science.

Dr. Bushuk also played a leading role in wheat variety development in western Canada. His research findings benefited Canadian wheat breeding programs and wheat producers, and for many years he served as a wheat quality expert on the Expert Committee on Grain Quality (now the Prairie Grain Development Committee), which facilitates recommendations for  variety registration of wheat and other grains. Over the years he volunteered his services as a consultant for organizations such as the Canadian International Development Agency and Canadian Executive Services Overseas.

In recognition of his research achievements, Dr. Bushuk received many international awards, including an Honorary LL.D. (Poznan, Poland), three international scientific medals, and fellowships from five scientific societies, including The Royal Society of Canada (F.R.S.C.) and the Osborne Medal from the American Association of Cereal Chemists. He was honoured by the University of Manitoba Alumni Association with the Alumni Jubilee Award. In 2001, his postgraduate students and research colleagues held a one-day symposium at the AACC annual meeting and published a commemorative book, Wheat Quality Elucidation: The Bushuk Legacy, in his honour. In 2003, he was appointed Member of the Order of Canada for outstanding lifetime contributions in research and teaching. Dr. Bushuk attributed much of his success in scientific research to the unfailing love and support of his wife Jean and other members of his family.

On the occasion of a recognition reception in 2003 for Dr. Bushuk’s induction into the Order of Canada, Dr. Harry Sapirstein, one of Dr. Bushuk’s students and now a Professor in the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, noted:

“I don’t know a person more dedicated to his or her profession, nor one with as much insight on the research end or people in general.  I think Walter is one of those few individuals who sees things very clearly.  Walter has a sixth sense when it came to concentrating on the grain science issues of the day and their strategic importance.  His success in research and grantmanship, which is a matter of record, reflects this very well.  But beyond this, Walter is a people’s person. While Walter liked to let his students work at a distance and put their own efforts into their research projects, we always knew that he was dedicated to what we were doing and to our success. For those of us in the fortunate position of having had you as a mentor, colleague and friend, we will be always grateful for the support and opportunities you gave us, and I’m sure you will always be remembered by all your students with great respect and affection.”

Dr. Bushuk is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jean, along with sons Darrell and Donald and their families.

A memorial service will be held at the Fort Garry United Church, 800 Point Road, on Friday, October 27, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. Cremation has taken place. Interment at the Victoria Beach Cemetery will be held at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the University of Manitoba Faculty Development Initiatives Fund (Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2) or a charity of your choice. Read the official obituary here.


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