In Memoriam – Gordon F. Whitmore (June 29, 1931 – December 30, 2021)


The ICRU announces with sadness the passing of Gordon Whitmore, who was a member of ICRU for 30 years after being elected to the commission in 1985.

Fifty ICRU reports were produced in this period. There is not a single report not improved by his contributions, insightful comments and suggestions, always to the point and based in his extraordinarily broad scientific and general knowledge.

Many of these reports had a seminal effect on these fields of investigation due to this scientific clarity and conciseness.  A typical example is the Report on Nuclear Data for Neutron and Proton Radiotherapy and for Radiation Protection (Report 63) which fused the evaluated data of several international and defense laboratories. The result has been the development of application specific particle transport codes covering energy ranges exceeding 108.

He equally contributed to the medical reports and is largely responsible for their scientific coherence and consistency across a broad number of applications.  Some authors and publishers were initially apprehensive about his insistence on brevity, clarity and accuracy as every word phrase, sentence, figure and table was subject to critique, founded in science and intended to maintain logical coherence with no confusion.

He served on The Executive Committee for many years and on his retirement was elected an honorary member of ICRU.

He was modest and motivated by science, never by personal gain or show, which gained him respect and friendships across the field and world.

Gordon was born in Saskatoon and received his HBA and MA in physics under the mentorship of Dr H. Johns at the University of Saskatchewan. Awarded the National Cancer Institute Fellowship in Radiation Physics at Yale, he completed his PhD in biophysics in 2 years. He was hired at the Ontario Cancer Institute in 1956 where he remained for the entirety of his career, serving as Chairman of the Department of Medical Biophysics (1971-81), Associate Dean of Basic Science (1974-1977), Head of the Physics Division (1980-1996) and Head of the Experimental Therapeutics Division (1990-1996).

After his retirement in 1996 Gordon continued to consult internationally, representing Canada at the Review Panel for NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training.  His many awards include the David Anderson-Berry Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Failla Award by the Radiation Research Society and the UHN Global Impact Award (shared with Jack Cunningham).

Gordon was kind, engaged in humanitarian projects, longtime volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and loved by his family and his many friends for his helpfulness, hospitality and support.

We offer our condolences to his wife Dawn of 67 years, daughters Christine, Elinor and Merrie with their families and three grandchildren.

We miss a great friend and scholar, but his stories, kindness and humor will be remembered by all who knew him.