Fond memories of “Grandpa Don”
RE: “Dr. R.D. “Don” Heyding”
ISSUE #3-2011, P. 45
I first met Doc Heyding – who would later come to be known as “Grandpa” or even sometimes “Grumpy” Don – on Homecoming Weekend’83. I was a “pre-tad”, in Grade 13 and trying to figure out where and what I wanted to study. Heyding made quite an impression. He was very kind, a little eccentric, and the epitome of what I thought a university professor might be like. His presence was one of the reasons why I chose to attend Queen’s. Despite trying some other disciplines first, it wasn’t surprising that I ended up in Engineering Chemistry. Between Drs. James McCowen, Brian Hunter, and Don Heyding, we “tads” (as he called us), were led through our undergrad studies, and we learned more than we ever thought possible. He was my final-year thesis advisor, and for me, he remains one of the icons of my time at Queen’s.
Heyding quietly worked, seemingly behind the scenes, to help students and make Queen’s a place of excellence, a place of fun, and a true home to all those he taught. He was an ongoing advisor to the Engineering Society and certainly had a hand in guiding its many traditions and variety of initiatives and programs. He was a mentor to so many young minds over the years and justly deserved all the Golden Apple teaching awards he received. He did what only truly great teachers can do – he inspired us, he helped make us more than we thought we could be, and he did all of it with that unique sense of humour and perspective that we all came to love.
I was fortunate enough to keep in touch with him, and to have met his wife “Grandma Grace.” You could tell he idolized her and believed she was his “better half”. It was clear theirs was a true partnership. I’m so glad that both my daughters were able to meet both Grandpa Don and Grandma Grace – even though I may have to happily remind them as they grow up who the smiling older man is in the pictures.
Queen’s was blessed to have had Heyding, as were the countless students whose lives he touched over the years. Thanks Grandpa Don ... for everything.
Robin Lee, Sc'90