Professor George Alexandrowicz (1942-2019)
When I attended George Alexandrowicz’ s funeral, I remembered a Slovak saying that if the sun is shining on the day of your funeral, then your cycle of life is complete and you are going to your eternal reward; if it raining, the raindrops represent your tears at having been called before your time. George Alexandrowicz was of Polish origin and our common Slavic background was one of the factors that cemented our 62-year long friendship. Another one was our refugee status from the horrors and aftermath of World War II in Central Europe.
We met at De La Salle College “Oaklands” in Grade 12 and celebrated this year the 60th year of our graduation. George was one of two Ontario Scholars of our class. Both of us went on to the University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto. Whereas I transferred to the University of Ottawa, George went on to study law at the University of Toronto. We both served as Officer Cadets in the University Reserve Training Plan of the Royal Canadian Air Force during our studies and were commissioned upon graduation. Academia, however, was our preference and both of us did graduate work that enabled us to land a position in a Canadian university for a life-long career. In addition to teaching law at Queen’s University in Kingston, George fulfilled the wish of many a father of having his son work with him: he was the legal counsel for his father’s notarial office that served the Polish community in Toronto and he was also my legal counsel.
George had a very successful academic career and became a quintessential example of the contribution to Canadian life that so many post-war immigrants have made. He did not leave behind a voluminous body of scholarly research, rather he served the Federal Government as a legal advisor on environmental issues and the law of the Sea at international conferences in addition to preparing two generations of students for the study and practice of the law. Our paths crossed often, not just on academic issues, but also on personal ones: best men at our respective weddings and godfathers of the other’s oldest child. In some ways, we were also competitors but pushing rather than outdoing the other. However, in the end, we were the other’s oldest and best friend. That bond remains very strong, something George confirmed on the day of his funeral: there was brilliant sunshine.
Requiescat in pace.
Stan Kirschbaum (Del 59)
- Fall 2020