Hans Kunov 1938 - 2022
(Affectionately Known As “The Great Dane” or TGD)
Hans died peacefully at home on June 4, surrounded by family and friends, after a year-long illness. He is survived by his sister Else, his wife Clare Lamb, his sons Mads (Marie) and Niels (Dani) and their mother Helle, and his much cherished grandchildren Tim, Matthew, Michael, Greta (aka Charlie), and Leevi.
Hans was born and educated in Denmark where he completed his doctoral studies in electrical engineering. He showed an early interest in what was then the emerging field of biomedical engineering and left Denmark for Canada in 1967, where he was offered a professorship at the University of Toronto’s newly established Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME). He spent the rest of his career teaching and researching at the Institute, which he headed from 1989 to 1999. Hans retired in 2003, but continued to teach, mentor, and act as a senior resource for engineering students for the capstone design course. He used to say, “I love dealing with young, intelligent, curious students.”
While Hans left Denmark in 1967, he never forgot his Danish cultural roots and holidayed there often as well as cultivating an extensive network of Danish-Canadian friends. He referred to himself as a Viking having never lost his taste for Aquavit and Gammeldansk - the essential medicine of all real Danes. He loved sailing the Danish waters and as a premonition to moving to Canada, co-owed a wooden skiff named Blue Nose while a student.
Having lost his own father as a very young boy, Hans recognized “where the shoe pinched” and became an engaged and active Big Brother to four successive Little Brothers. While he might not have been as successful as he would have wished in encouraging his passion for woodwork in them, he did establish a long lasting friendship particularly with Trevor.
TGD was a warm, generous, and sociable man, passionately committed to his family and the great cycle of generations, and the memories and legacies they weave together. He always treasured family memories and life stories.
Above all, Hans was a man of wise counsel, a pragmatic philosopher of life who reflected much about the meaning of life and attached great importance to moral and ethical behaviour. His last assignment at U of T was as Dean’s Designate on Academic Offenses for the Faculty of Engineering - a task he particularly enjoyed.
Like the Viking he was, TGD was always courageous, stoic, lucid, and “matter of fact” when dealing with the many health issues he faced. He remained so until the end.
He will be missed by those who loved him.
His life will be celebrated at the end of June when travel arrangements can be made. True to form, when asked about charitable donations, TGD just said, “Be kind.”