Ian was born on June 13, 1945 in Cremorne, NSW where his father was stationed during the second world war. When he was only one year old, his father died after appendix surgery, and his mother Joan raised him and his sister Frances with the support of Legacy. Being a Quaker, he received his secondary education (1958 – 1963) at the Friends School, Hobart, which was co-founded by his great grandfather. At the Friends School, he was Dux of the School and won prizes for Mathematics, Chemistry and Geography. Here and discovered his aptitude for pattern recognition, which he later considered to be the key to his scientific ability and also to many of his other interests including music and art.

He met Marie, his wife of 43 years, while employed as a demonstrator in the chemistry labs at the University of Tasmania and they were married in 1970. They moved to Melbourne where Ian's PhD supervisor, Tom Spurling had taken up a position at CSIRO Division of of Applied Chemistry at Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne. allowing Ian to complete his PhD.

After completing his  PhD, Ian worked with David Craig at The Research School of Chemistry at ANU. Ian and Marie’s first son Stuart was born in Canberra in December 1972 on the day before Ian’s interview for an academic position at RMIT. The family moved to Melbourne in 1973, where in 1975 a second son, Graeme, was born. Ian and Marie's third child, Tamara, was born in 1976 in San Jose, California, where Ian worked for 12 months in the IBM labs.

Tragically, Ian and Marie’s son Stuart died in October 2004. This event had a profound effect on Ian, both emotionally and physically.

Ian was delighted in his choice of his son-in-law Simon and daughter-in-law Nina. He doted on his two grandchildren, Soren and Matisse. Unfortunately, he did not meet his 3rd grandchild, Sam.

Science was at the very core of his life. It was his job and his hobby. He was excited about every new "discovery" and the success of his group and his students.

He was a cricket and Collingwood tragic.

He loved fine wine and food, and had an extraordinary ability to identify wines. He could remember every bottle of wine he drank.

He had very eclectic taste in music with an ever expanding CD collection. Music was a huge part of his life.

Art was another passion, once again having an appreciation for a very wide range of styles.

Ian was a very genuine, unassuming and extremely modest man, despite his considerable achievements. He always put the needs of his family, students, colleagues and friends ahead of his own.

Ian was universally loved, respected and admired, and he will be remembered as one of those rare individuals who was able to create an enormous sphere of positive influence on many people.

 Ian died after an 18 month struggle with cancer, but was able to still enjoy good food and wine and good company right up until his death on the 7th April, 2013. 


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Please direct any queries or suggestions to Marie Snook.


0438 944784