338 - 4th Avenue North | Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 2L7
Obituary of Harvey Milton Skarsgard
Dr. Harvey M. Skarsgard
Harvey Milton Skarsgard passed away Sunday, October 21, 2018 at the age of 89. He is lovingly remembered by his wife Ilse; daughter Karen (Victor) and sons David (Heather) and Andrew (Krista); Ilse’s children Philipp (Lorraine) and Daniel Schott; grandchildren Hannah, Matthew, Peter, Sarah, Erik, Isabel, Marcus, Alexander; brother Lloyd (Margaret) Skarsgard, sister-in-law Doreen Skarsgard, brothers-in-law Roy Ardell and Steven Gyorgy; and 11 nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his first wife Anne; parents Borghild and Haakon Skarsgard; parents-in-law Rose and Dezso Gyorgy; and siblings Margaret Ardell and Sylvan Skarsgard.
Harvey was born on a farm near Viscount, Saskatchewan on February 27, 1929. As a boy, his love of horses combined with his skill “breaking” them for riding and his considerable physical strength led to him breaking horses for family and neighbors. The family spent many enjoyable times at Lake Manitou, a short distance from their farm. Harvey helped on the farm and his parents instilled in him the value of hard work and the importance of an education.
From 1935 to 1942, Harvey went to Logan School, just 2 miles north of the farm, skipping two grades. After 1942, when he wasn’t farming, his high school years were divided between Nutana Collegiate in Saskatoon and Viscount High School. He started grade 10 at Nutana and completed his schooling at Viscount, a 7-mile ride on horseback each way between the farm and the school. He graduated from Viscount High School in 1945 at age 16.
Harvey attended the University of Saskatchewan for his Bachelor of Engineering (Physics) (1949) and Master’s in Physics (1950) and found time to captain the university’s wrestling team. He worked as a geophysicist for Imperial Oil in Calgary until continuing his education at McGill University where he earned his PhD in Nuclear Physics (1955). He was always thankful his parents were so supportive, allowing him to reach his goals.
While at McGill, his love of classical music led him to meet his first wife Anne at a music appreciation club. After completing his PhD, Harvey had postdoctoral fellowships in England and Switzerland. A long-distance relationship with Anne survived, grew and led to their marriage in 1959. Harvey returned to Saskatchewan with his bride, where he took on a faculty position at the University of Saskatchewan, established the Plasma Physics Laboratory and remained at the university for his entire career. Harvey was a devoted professor who taught and mentored many undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students. As an applied researcher, he made significant contributions to the field of plasma physics, working with scientists around the world towards realizing the promise of nuclear fusion as a source of clean and limitless energy.
Harvey was an eternal optimist who wanted good things for the people around him. He took a great interest in world news and was always well-informed, caring about what was happening in the world. With Anne, he raised their three children, and cross-country skied or hiked every weekend, depending on the season. The family went trailer camping to Jasper each summer. He loved classical music and they had season tickets to the Saskatoon Symphony each year. They took their three children on a sabbatical year in Europe where he connected with labs in England and Switzerland, introducing their children to many European sights and providing them a different education. Most of all he always stressed the importance of family, and there were many family get-togethers with extended family, especially when the children were growing up.
Harvey never lost his boyhood love of farming and the land, and began his second, part-time career as a farmer in his fifties, which became full-time upon his retirement from the university. He considered himself a hobby farmer because he “did not have to get in a crop to eat.” Anne passed away unexpectedly shortly after his retirement and Harvey married Ilse in 1995. They built a loving life together, sharing many of the same interests such as outdoor activities and attending the symphony. Harvey and Ilse toured extensively in Canada and throughout the world, enjoying adventurous travel to exotic places, riding elephants and hang-gliding along the way. They enjoyed visits with their children and eight grandchildren from both sides of their united families. Harvey’s life was guided by his quietly but strongly held Christian beliefs and his core values including honesty, integrity, responsibility and hard work. He set a strong example for his children and their children. In later years, his health deteriorated and Ilse showed her dedication and devotion to Harvey through these difficult times. Harvey was fortunate to have two wonderful marriages in his life.
A Celebration of Life service is planned for Saturday, November 3 at 1:00 pm at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 812 Preston Avenue, Saskatoon. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the “Dr. Harvey Skarsgard Memorial Scholarship in Physics” (https://donate.usask.ca, or by mail to University Relations, G15 Thorvaldson Building, 110 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5C9); or to Luther Special Care Home Recreation Department, c/o LutherCare Foundation, 1212 Osler Street, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0T9 (306) 664-0316; or to the charity of your choice.
Dependable. Committed. Compassionate.
338 - 4th Avenue North
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 2L7
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