Scientist, professor, adventurer, father. Born on Sept. 14, 1961, in Toronto; died on Jan. 20, 2015, in Kingston, Ont., of brain cancer, aged 53.
Geoffrey was a consummate adventurer and a brilliant scientist but, most of all, our brother was a multitalented, wonderful family man.
Geoff obtained his doctorate in medical biophysics in 1992 from the University of Toronto where he did pioneering work in high-frequency ultrasound imaging before moving to the Cleveland Clinic. In 1999, he joined the engineering physics department at Queen's University in Kingston, both because he wanted to raise his children in Canada and because he wanted undergraduate teaching to be part of his life's work.
His students loved him for his compassionate teaching skills. On a Queen's website where students rate their professors, one wrote: "He cares about his students, really wants them to learn, and does everything with that in mind." When Geoff's life was cut so tragically short, flags on campus were lowered to half-mast for four days in his honour.
We were in awe of his expert athletic skills – rock climbing, wind surfing, sailing, kayaking, skiing. He was encouraging, patient and radiated calmness; we always knew we were in safe hands when he was with us. And we cherished his artistic gifts, too, as a woodworker who made lovely furniture for us at Christmas and as a classical pianist. He also possessed a beautiful singing voice, recognized from when he sang in the boys' choir at St. Simon-the-Apostle church in Toronto.
Geoff relished every challenging, physical adventure. When was 21, he sent brother William, then 11, a postcard from an Outward Bound mountaineering course: "I've spent three days rock climbing, two days kayaking, and four days on an expedition up a local mountain. Two of the nights spent on the mountain were in a snow cave dug deep into a snowdrift. The cave was heated by a single candle and surprisingly warm and comfortable. On the way down we were introduced to 'glissading' … you simply roll onto your back with your head pointing downhill and feet in the air. ... I am having a wonderful time."
We love this postcard because it is so genuinely Geoffrey: He is sleeping in a snowdrift, sliding down an icy mountain on his back, and enjoying every minute.
Geoff was happiest in the natural world. He married the love of his life, Anne Topper, at Rock Lake in Ontario's Algonquin Park when they were in their mid-20s. A devoted father to their sons Kenneth and Joshua, he fostered in his boys an early love of books, reading to them every night. A special treat was getting an extra chapter at bedtime.
We loved Geoff's reading, too. He had a gentle, clear voice that carried the story into our imaginations. Whenever he was reading we would gather around, with our kids, to listen. Often these story-telling sessions would be on a Georgian Bay campsite, where we would join Geoff and his family on their holiday. Geoff and Anne's campsite was the heart and home base for all our adventures.
We are all still numb at losing this clever, loving man, who inspired us with his talents and passion for life.
William, Poppy and Sandra Lockwood are Geoff's siblings.