Dr. Philip Alexander Lapp



Passed Away in 2013 - Scroll Down for Obituary  

Décès en 2013 - Avis de décès au bas de la page  








Obituary  -  Avis de décès

Dr. Philip Alexander Lapp

1928 - 2013



Philip Lapp, OC, BASc, SM, ScD, HonLLD (McMaster), PEng, FRSC

Dr. Philip Lapp was appointed to the Board of Governors for York University in 1980 and served until 1992. He was made an Honorary Governor of the Board in 1995. Dr. Lapp also served as Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of the York University Development Corporation, the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and a member of the Property and Building Committee. His contributions to aeronautical aerospace, and communications science and technology have played a very significant part in Canada’s aerospace industry.

Dr. Lapp earned his Bachelor of Applied Science at the University of Toronto, and his Masters and Doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has served on numerous committees in many associations in his field, including terms as the President of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and Chairman of the NRC Advisory Board on Scientific and Technological Information. Dr. Lapp is President of Philip A. Lapp Limited, consulting engineers and scientists. He is an Honorary Member of the Engineering Institute of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995.

After a lengthy battle with cancer, Phil passed away peacefully on September 25, 2013 at Mackenzie Health Richmond Hill at the age of 85.

Beloved husband of the late Caulyne (Bunnie) and Colleen. Loving father of David (Kim), Douglas (Lynn) and Aimee (Kevin). Proud Grampy of Cameron (Erin), Colin, Hana, Kelly (Ian), Brittany and Arianne. Great grandfather of Alora and Kyla. Will also be missed by Colleen's daughter Heather.

A special thank you to the doctors and nurses in the ICU of Mackenzie Health for their support and kindness throughout.

Visitation will be held on Monday, September 30, 2013 from 2:00 - 4:00 and 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the R.S. Kane Funeral Home (6150 Yonge Street, at Goulding, south of Steeles). A Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. at R.S. Kane Chapel. As an expression of sympathy, donations may be made to the Mackenzie Health Foundation.




Canadian space pioneer Philip Lapp dies at 85


from Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press, September 26, 2013


MONTREAL -- Philip Lapp, whose string of contributions to Canada's space program over a half-century included helping to build the first Canadarm, has passed away at the age of 85. His wife Colleen Lapp told The Canadian Press that her husband died in hospital near Toronto on Wednesday after a long illness.


The aeronautical engineer's list of achievements included helping to build Canada's first satellite; working on the early NASA capsules; co-founding SPAR Aerospace, which built the first Canadarm; and co-authoring major space policy.


But he didn't brag about it.


“We didn't blow that horn loudly,'' Lapp said in a 2011 interview with The Canadian Press, describing his contribution to the antennaes for NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space capsules. “Probably we should have. But this is the Canadian way, you know. So we didn't make the exaggerated statements that you hear from other parts of the world.''


Lapp was instrumental in the construction of Alouette -- Canada's first satellite, which led the country to become the third nation in space after the United States and the Soviet Union. He also helped establish the Canadian Astronautical Society, the predecessor to the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute.


His wife lauded his human side in an interview Thursday. “He was just a really bright man,'' Colleen Lapp said.

“But he had a common touch... He got along with everyone.''


He volunteered his time as a member of the board of the Canadian Air and Space museum in Toronto until he became ill. Robert Godwin, who served as the museum's space curator, said Lapp leaves behind a huge legacy.

“His hand was in so many of these different things that we now attribute to our Canadian air and space program,'' Godwin said in an interview from Toronto.


Lapp got his start doing his thesis in the U.S. at MIT on long-range ballistic missiles in the 1950s. He designed the guidance system for one of the first rockets the Americans developed, under the classified Atlas program, and says he returned to Canada “with a lot of space stuff in my head.''


Godwin also said Lapp co-authored the “Chapman report'' which launched Canada's space policy in 1967 and which, he added, has influenced Canada's space program ever since. But he said what really struck him was that, despite his list of accomplishments, Lapp was a quiet and humble man. “He was so soft-spoken, did not blow his own horn, but when he spoke people tended to listen because usually what he said was worth hearing,'' Godwin said. “It was always a quiet, calm, considered opinion and you can tell you were getting sage advice when Phil spoke.''


In the 2011 Canadian Press interview, Lapp discussed the 50th anniversary of the historic first human space flight by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. He admitted that he admired the Russians back then even though he was frustrated because they had more success with their rockets than the Americans. “When Gagarin was in orbit, it's probably fair enough to say that I was probably frustrated that we, the western world, were beaten by the Russians again with putting a man in space,'' Lapp said. “That was quite an achievement. I had to mix my feelings with an admiration that the Russians were able to do it.''


Lapp was working with a group of young engineers at the De Havilland aircraft company in the 1950s and early '60s at its Guided Missile Division, just outside Toronto.


Lapp, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995, leaves behind a wife, stepdaughter, and two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage.


Correction: The Canadian Press erroneously reported Sept. 26 that Philip Lapp was the head of mechanical engineering on the Avro Arrow (CF-105). In fact, Lapp did not hold that position.


Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press
September 26, 2013


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