The Obituary of Dr. John F. Harrod

Published: 1 February 2023

Dr. John F. Harrod, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry at McGill University passed away peacefully in Montreal on January 26, 2023, in his 89th year.


John was educated at the University of Birmingham in the UK receiving his B.Sc.(Hons.) in 1952 and Ph.D. in 1958 and then did postdoctoral work at the University of British Columbia with Prof. Jack Halpern, a former McGill graduate. He started working as a polymer research chemist at the General Electric Research Lab in New York state in 1960 and joined the faculty at McGill University in 1966. Prof. Harrod’s arrival at McGill has marked the time of a major expansion of the Department of Chemistry. He was one of pioneers in organometallic chemistry, particularly known for his contributions to organosilicon chemistry. His many research accomplishments were recognized by several honors, including the Tomlinson Chair in Chemistry, Killam Research Fellowship and Alcan Award in Inorganic Chemistry from the Canadian Society for Chemistry. He retired in 1998, after working at McGill for 32 years, and was appointed as Professor Emeritus. In his career, Prof. Harrod has published almost 200 research articles and co-authored an undergraduate textbook Inorganic Chemistry: Principles and Applications. This book was published in 1989 and was translated into several languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Greek.


Outside of chemistry, John had many interests. He was an avid sportsman – tennis and skiing particularly, and he enjoyed extended walks in France. In 1964, he took a leave of absence from General Electric and volunteered for the International Voluntary Service based in Zurich, working for over a year on disaster and humanitarian relief projects in Algeria, Northern Greece and Switzerland. He was also an extremely competent craftsman. The family cottage that he built near Lac Chevreuil in the Laurentians is still being used to this day by his extended family. John was a renaissance man - a poet, a musician playing guitar and recorder, and a puppeteer (especially at Christmas time).


John was widely known on campus. He served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry (1976-79) and as President of MAUT (1981-82).


John is survived by his wife of over 45 years, Prof. Leanore Lieblin, and his three children Jean-Pierre, Rachel and Ariel, and their families. His memory will be treasured.

Back to top