Scientist, writer, photographer, samaritan, polymath, chef, friend. Born June 15, 1944, in London. Died July 2, 2011, in Toronto of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, aged 67.
Andy Forester was raised by his mother, Jane, and his maternal grandparents in north London, England. Always proud of his Welsh and Irish ancestry, he also gained a detailed knowledge of pre-war life on the Indian subcontinent from his grandfather, who had retired from the British Army in India.
While completing his undergraduate zoology degree at the University of London, Andy often skipped lectures for trips to the British Museum. He earned a PhD in marine biology at the University of Reading, where he met Liz Parker, an undergraduate in geology. They were married in 1968.
Andy spent several summers as a postdoctoral fellow and chief scuba diver for a geological study off the coast of Connemara, Ireland. Further postdoctoral research in zoology and environmental studies at the University of Toronto led him to establish a one-man environmental consulting agency.
After 30 years of living in Toronto, Andy and Liz retired to a house near Haliburton, Ont., close to the cottage they had owned since the late eighties. Their home was soon filled with overflowing bookcases, cameras, antique microscopes, telescopes and photographs.
Describing Andy as a polymath is an understatement. He could speak intelligently and at length on topics as diverse as Mayan architecture, the ballistics of hunting rifles, Middle East history, pre-Raphaelite art and coral-reef ecology. In his 40s he completed most of a second undergraduate degree in pre-Columbian archeology. He and Liz visited numerous Mayan and Aztec sites in Central and South America and returned with stunning photographs of architecture, wildlife and people.
Andy’s hallmarks were his ribald and indefatigable sense of humour and his boundless generosity to friends and relatives. Andy and Liz had no children of their own, but they gave selflessly of their time to their friends’ children, especially those dealing with the death of a parent or a divorce. He was equally generous with his visits and calls to his friends’ elderly parents.
An accomplished cook, Andy created meals that could have graced the table at any Indian, Spanish, French or Argentine restaurant. He often provided the meat for such dishes from his own efforts as a hunter. Among the numerous projects under way at the time of his death was a cookbook, illustrated with his own photographs.
Andy dealt with his diagnosis of lymphocytic leukemia in 2008 with a mixture of pragmatism and optimism. In e-mails to friends he recounted his journey through several bouts of chemotherapy with more than a little humour. Always up for a spirited discussion, on the day before he died he was debating a point of science with one of the physicians who was treating him.
By Michael O’Donnell, Andy’s friend.
Follow us on Twitter: