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Tributes for a Stawell scholar

Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to prominent Australian physicist the late Dr Eric Vance, who was born in Ararat and spent his childhood in Stawell. They have collaborated to provide a brief description of his life and impact on not only Australia, but also the world. Here is a condensed version of their obituary for him –

Vale Dr Eric Raymond ‘Lou’ Vance, 1942 – 2019

Vale Dr Eric Raymond ‘Lou’ Vance, 1942 – 2019

Dr Vance, known as Lou to almost all of his friends and colleagues, was born in Ararat Hospital on November 15,1942 and died at Calvary Hospital, Kogarah, Sydney on March 3 this year.
During his childhood his family moved to Stawell where his father, Albert Louis Vance, established a pharmacy business.
Albert was originally from Joel. Lou still has relatives in the district including his sister, Margaret. From his commencement at Stawell High School, it was soon apparent that Lou had a remarkable capacity for scholastic achievement, exhibiting from the early years sharp insight, industry and unusual inventiveness.
He scored outstanding results at all levels through these years, culminating in First-Class Honours in all subjects and four General Exhibitions in his Matriculation in 1959.
Stawell High School at this time had the wonderful combination of a talented group of senior students, and an extremely dedicated staff led by an outstanding principal Bert Murdoch.
Always a scholar, Lou was also a sportsman, a member of Stawell High School’s cricket and football premiership teams that won Wimmera championships.
Graeme Lewis, speaking recently to Bruce Evans was told, ‘Lou was the most frustrating opening batsman he ever bowled to’.
Brian Edwards, fellow form-six student in 1959, recalled that Lou was not impressed with the scissors method of high jumping during school athletics.
He thought this through, considering matters as mass, density, gravity and motion, and came up an early version of the ‘Fosby Flop’, jumping backwards head first over the bar and horrifying his sports master, Ray Potter.
During residency in Queen’s College for his undergraduate years at the University of Melbourne, he was a member of the Queen’s College golf team that won an intercollegiate championship at Royal Melbourne.
Rodney Martin, fellow form-six classmate and Lou’s best man at his wedding, recalled leaving school early with Lou to play golf – riding their bikes with golf clubs over their shoulders to Stawell Golf Club.
Bill Earle, fellow Stawell High School and Melbourne University student, remembered the mischievous Lou receiving ‘payback’ and being carried sound asleep in his bed out to the quadrangle. When found still asleep next morning he was woken by water bombing.
Loue continued to enjoy golf throughout his life and after 68 years’ practice his handicap was getting higher. Until last October Lou was also still a ompetitive tennis player.
Loue and his wife Jan were also avid duplicate bridge players, especially during the long Canadian winters.
After graduating with a PhD. in Physics from Monash University in 1968, Lou held many research and teaching positions around the world, summarised as follows:
1968-1969 AAEC – now ANSTO – Sydney.
1969-1972 University College, London.
1972-1977 Research School of Physical Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra.
1977-1978 University College, London.
1978-1979 Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.
1979-1982 Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania.
1982-1987 Atomic Energy of Canada, Pinawa, Manitoba, Canada.
1987-2019 ANSTO, Sydney.
In 2007 Lou received the Leverhulme Fellowship to work at Cambridge University in Earth Sciences, and later made a Fellow of Clare Hall.
In 1989 Lou took a position as Senior Research Scientist at ANSTO, Aust. Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, at Lucas Heights Nuclear Plant, Sydney.
Here he worked on developing Synrock – Synthetic Rock – for safe storage of nuclear waste. After 30 years of research and development by Lou and his team, Synrock is now going into commercial production.
In 2001 Lou became Chief Research Scientist at ANSTO. He was author and co-author of almost 400 articles in international journals and conference proceedings.
Lou leaves behind a legacy in terms of his science but also his attitude and approach to life.
We take his knowledge and his discoveries forward but much more than that – we will forever remember his warmth, his generosity, his humour, and his humility.
Lou stands out as an outstanding product of our Wimmera schools and community.
Lou is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Jan, daughter Julia, grandchildren Ben and Anna, son Michael and daughter-in-law Kate, grandchildren Lucy and Sophie, sister Margaret, brother-in-law Ken, and children Trevor and Carolyn.
So sadly missed by his loving family, and his many friends and colleagues.
– Obituary details by Dr Brian Edwards from Glenorchy, fellow form-six student and Melbourne University mate; Dr Trevor Finlayson and Dr Daniel Gregg, fellow physicist associates and friends; and Graeme K. Lewis, a school friend.

The entire May 29, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire May 29, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on May 29 2019

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