I learned recently that Norm Fairbairn had passed away in January at the age of 94.

Norm was one of the giants I got to know as a young scientist at General Foods in the early 1970s.

He was born in LaTuque QC in 1926 – where his father worked as a plant electrician. Norm was educated as a chemist at Bishops University and McGill. After he got his Master’s degree he joined General Foods and spent his entire career there.

Norm was an expert on applied research, and it was his view that you couldn’t be a real chemist unless you were well acquainted with statistics and experimental design. Thanks to his influence, I was able to study this subject in detail during my GF career – especially when I worked in Quality Assurance at the LaSalle Plant.

Norm was one of the first people to see the potential for microcomputers and had an Apple II in his office long before personal computing became popular.

He was a quiet and cerebral person, and I admired him greatly. I’d like to say that I tried my best to be the kind of scientist he was.

After Norm retired in the early 1990s he moved out to Alberta to be close to his son and family. He was a fanatical fly fisherman and loved the Rivers in Jasper Park.

Norm had a long and productive life – both at work and play. It was my privilege to know him. RIP.


Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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