Ian Parsons

July 12, 2020 41 Condolences Print Obituary


Ian passed away on July 9, surrounded by people he loved.

He will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Edith, daughters Ellen and Emily, son Matthew, daughter in law Natasha, grandson Gabriel, his mother Mary Parsons, sisters Sara and Susan, his in-laws and several nieces and nephews.

He will be missed by many friends, especially his fishing buddies, his former work colleagues, the Taoist Tai Chi community, and his D&D group.

He caught many fish and patted many animals. He was kind and loving.

Cremation has taken place. Due to COVID, we will celebrate Ian’s memory at a later time.

  1. Edith, Emily and family, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope happy memories will bring you some comfort at this time.
    Sandi Sherman

    • My deepest condolences, Edith and family. Ian was a favourite Tai Chi instructor, and such a kind man. He was a mentor to many, and he will be remembered for his grace, his instruction, his good humour and gentleness. He always spoke of his family with such love and pride. May your own good memories comfort and strengthen you in these difficult days.

  2. Ian was a dear friend for almost four decades. Ian was a faithful friend, husband and father as well as being a huge support to his mother. His many interests and selfless character made Ian special to those of us lucky enough to have known him. I will always treasure the many fishing trips spent together and the decades of Tuesday pub visits. Life won’t be the same without Ian in our lives. I’ll miss Ian’s friendship, his laugh, and his wit. Our thoughts are with Edith and family as you try to come to grips with his loss during this time of social isolation. He was an amazing man who died far too young.

  3. Edith, family and friends. I had the great fortune of meeting Ian through tai chi and whenever I needed help in my learning, Ian was there. Ian’s caring of others and sense of humour were always a help to all who needed that help. Although not knowing him well, I will miss our opportunities to talk and exchange philosophies!

  4. Edith, Emily, and family. Sending you love. Hold your memories with Ian close, hold each other closer. My heart goes out to you.

  5. We are so sad to hear that Ian has passed away. So young, too young. Kim and I send our love . Its very hard losing a loved one, no matter what age.
    Eileen and Kim, Matt’s parents -in-law).

    • Thanks for your kind words, Gerry. He really appreciated the Zoom meetings with you and his fishing friends.

  6. Edith and family, I am so sorry for your loss. Ian was a crucial part of our annual guys fishing trip to Besnard Lake. I will miss his humour, his stories about his family, his boat driving ability, and his steak cooking talent! But most of all, I will miss him. He was a good man.

  7. Sincere condolences on the passing of Ian. He was a man of broad and diverse talents and interests. Although he might have denied it if it was said to him, at his core he was a kind and gentle soul as well. I will think of him often.

  8. Ian’s family, I am so sorry for your loss. Ian was one of those rare people who are content and true to them selves. I had the pleasure of working with Ian at SCL R&D for few years and have always admired his unique mix of logic, kindness and positivity.

  9. Dear Edith and family,
    Thoughts and prayers to you all. Ian’s death is a loss for all of us, but mostly for you. I knew Ian through tai chi. He was a great mentor to me, although he wouldn’t call himself that. His gifts of gentleness, kindness, willingness to share/teach, humour, humility, and dedication will be missed.
    He loved talking about his family, and through those stories, I knew how much he loved you deeply. They say you can learn a lot about a man through his relationship with his mother. And Ian was a perfect example of a loving son.
    Ian was a gift, and he has left a legacy of compassion.

  10. A really great person for me to know Ian while working at Syncrude. He was always happy and very helpful.
    He introduced me to Tai chi. I will remember Ian.

  11. I feel very privileged to have gotten to know Ian through Taoist Tai Chi and I cherish the many memories of us practicing together. He was a kind and caring person and will be greatly missed. My heart goes out to you Edith and family. Please accept my deepest sympathies.

  12. I send my condolences to all who loved Ian .. He was easy to love .. We were childhood friends .. From a small community. Attended high school together and were card partners I grade 13. Though I haven’t seen him in years I weeped from his passing .. Love to Edith and family 💐

    • What a nice surprise to hear from you, Marylou! Ian always spoke fondly of you, Jane and Archie. I also remember a very nice visit with you and your kids on one of our trips out to Vancouver Island. Yes, you were friends from way back. Thanks for bringing up some happy memories.

      • How are you Edith ?? Missing Ian today and loving him still .. God bless .. 🙏❤️

  13. Oh Edith, so sad to hear of your great loss. It was less than a year ago Terryl and I met you and Ian in Scotland where you were celebrating your 40th anniversary, a lovely moment. So happy to have seen you both.
    Much love

    • That was a wonderful holiday. Meeting you and Terryl so far from home was such a nice surprise.

  14. Edith and family, please accept my sincerest sympathies. I was so sad to hear of Ian’s passing. He and I enjoyed many lunch conversations during our time together at Syncrude Research. He spoke fondly and proudly about his family all the time. He was a kind and considerate friend. I trust your memories of him will bring you strength and ultimately peace.

    • Thanks, Brenda. Ian had many positive memories of his work colleagues at Syncrude.

  15. My condolences to you Edith and your family on the loss of your husband…may your memories of your life together give you comfort…

  16. Ian, we’ll surely miss your breakfasts. Everyone in Calgary will fondly remember you whenever we have an event here. Many thanks for all that you’ve done.

  17. Edith and Family, Sorry for your loss! I knew Ian in Syncrude and it was always pleasant to chat with Ian. He is very kind to others and I will miss him.

    John Zhang

  18. My condolences and love to Edith, his family, and his many friends. Although I did not know Ian as well as some here, I am devastated to hear of his passing.

    I’ve known Ian since I was an undergraduate student at the University of Alberta in the late 1980’s. In fact, I still regularly quote Ian from a conversation we had when we (later on) both ended up as graduate students at the same time.

    I often say to my kids (in that weird fatherly way, in those weird moments) (paraphrasing Ian, who returned to school as a “mature student” after a first degree and career): You can be 40 years old with a Ph.D., or you can be 40 without a Ph.D.

    Of course, Ian finished his Ph.D. in Computing Science and had a great second career.

    Another memory that comes flooding back: One time, Ian was making a presentation at the blackboard (yes, blackboard). He was writing several equations down. In my cheesy way, I piped up and said: “Ian, I don’t understand. It’s all Greek to me.” In truth, Ian didn’t laugh, but he didn’t yell at me either 🙂 🙂

    I miss you, Ian.

    Paul Lu

  19. Ian was my first PhD student, co-supervised with Jonathan Schaeffer, but I learned as much from Ian as he did from me. Ian was one of those people who ALWAYS thought outside the box. Even though he graduated in 1997, we became and stayed friends after he graduated. We played Dungeons and Dragons together every week and I have many great memories of both our time together at U of A and our weekly DnD games since. I was looking at a journal from our 1995 games recently and was remembering some of the wild and crazy things that his first character (Snuffy) did. We have played (remotely) for a few weeks now without Ian participating, but he is always in our thoughts as we continue to play. I often wished that Greymist (Ian’s latest character) was there to help in tough situations. Before the Covid crisis, we played at Ian’s house and I watched Matthew, Ellen and Emily grow up. He and Edith have raised such a great group of kids and Ian was rightfully very proud of them. Ian will be missed, but I will always remember him with fondness.

  20. my deepest condolences, edith and family. you are in my thoughts at this very sad and difficult time.
    patti hartnagel
    green and gold garden

  21. Dear Edith, Emily & Family,
    Sad and so very sorry of your loss. Reflecting many memorable conversations with Ian who always spoke well and proud of his family also
    His cooking. Even though he left earthly but he will be always in your heart.
    May God comfort you and please know that my thoughts, prayers and
    condolences to you all.
    Blessings and Love,
    Betty Mar

  22. I have had the privilege of knowing Ian as a student, employee, and friend. Putting emotions into words is hard (at least for me), but memories are easier. Let me relate one story that is indirectly about Ian, as it has very odd timing.
    Ian, probably without even knowing it, influenced some of my research. In the 1990s there was a fun but challenging puzzle called Sokoban (it’s still around — try it!). Ian became addicted to it and every time I went into the lab he seemed to be deep in thought trying to solve Sokoban puzzles. I’m not sure when he found time to do his thesis research. In the end, he solved all the standard 90 Sokoban problems and graduated. I know he was proud of both accomplishments.
    I was intrigued by Sokoban since it, like all good puzzles, had simple rules that gave rise to interesting challenges. I resolved to write a program to solve the 90 puzzles — in other words, automate what Ian accomplished. Working with a talented Ph.D. student we were only able to get to around 60 problems solved. I was disappointed that we could not compete with Ian’s abilities. I failed my “Parsons Challenge.” I was resigned to the fact that I was unable to “compete” with Ian.
    But there is a postscript. A talented person in Israel contacted me in January. He had new ideas and, voila, for the first time all 90 problems have been solved by computer. Ian took months to solve all 90; the new program solves them all in less than five minutes. We wrote a research paper on this work and I was going to share it with Ian. But my last email to him in June wasn’t replied to. My ~25 year “Parsons Challenge” is over and I rue not having the chance to have a good laugh about it with Ian.
    My heart goes out to Ian and the family during this difficult time.

  23. I met Ian during our time at Syncrude Research. He was a gentleman and will be missed. My deepest sympathies to his family.

  24. We are writing to express our condolences to Edith and family on Ian’s passing. We knew Ian at Taoist Tai Chi. Ian was a supportive instructor, a dedicated participant and an excellent role model in Tai Chi. We will miss his kind manner and ready laugh. We will remember Ian fondly and hold Edith and the family in our thoughts.

  25. Edith, family and friends. I also had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Ian through tai chi. We will all miss his humour, dedication and hard work – breakfasts at Orangeville just won’t be the same without Ian there to organize things! So very sorry for your loss.

  26. Ian! Already missing your humour at our game sessions! I played D&D with you for something like 32 years! I hope you are rolling 20’s now and unlocking all the doors. What else is there to say? You are missed!

  27. I am so sorry to hear of Ian’s passing. During his time at Syncrude I enjoyed many lunch break conversations about family, hobbies, and food. Ian was a good man with a big heart. My daughter had the pleasure of meeting Ian after he left Syncrude, while doing a solar install on your home. She too, was struck by his friendly, caring manner and his passion for doing the right thing. Our sincerest condolences to your family.

  28. Remembering Ian over this past week has brought me many fond memories: his teaching of Tai Chi (he had a unique body awareness), his stories about his mother and her farm, his childrens’ lives and accomplishments, his fishing trips.
    Ian was multifaceted. He was a dedicated and loyal Tai Chi instructor, contributing in many ways including his talented cooking skills and contributing to day-to-day maintenance and functioning of the building. I enjoyed cooking with him.

    Ian was a talented, multifaceted man. Thank you for enriching our lives Ian.

  29. Edith and Family. My deepest condolences. Ian was a man with a kind heart, a gentle sense of humour, and a smile that warmed the room. I will really miss seeing him when we can resume Tai Chi classes.

  30. My condolences Edith and family,
    So sorry to hear of Ian’s passing. He was a gentle soul with a kind heart. His teaching skills and sense of humour will be missed at our Tai Chi gatherings. I hope the many memories he left you to be savoured will help you in your time of sorrow.
    With deep sadness

    • It’s been wonderful hearing from so many of Ian’s Tai Chi students and fellow instructors. Tai Chi was a big part of Ian’s life, particularly after he retired. I know that he valued his many friendships among the Tai Chi community.

      • My Sincerest Condolences goes to my Neighbour’s the Parson’s Family, Edith and Emily, on the Passing of Ian .  Thoughts and Prayers are with them during this Time.

  31. My condolences to Ian’s family. I an sorry for yours and ours Losses.
    Ian, I will keep practicing and remember your smiles and instructions.

  32. I got my copy of “New Trail” and was absolutely stunned to learn of Ian’s passing.

    I met Ian when I joined the Enterprise Research Group at the University of Alberta. He was the “elder statesman” of the lab, and I can’t imagine anyone making it easier for someone far from home and new to grad school to feel welcome. He had the answer to any question you could possibly have. When I found myself taking on the same role years later, I like to think I did it half as well as Ian.

    Reading the comments here made me think back and laugh. Two things stand out for me.

    I remember D&D in Ian’s basement. A soundtrack of laughter and the clatter of rolling dice, fueled by Coke and pretzels. There was no better way to spend a Wednesday night.

    And for the life of me, I cannot shake the image of Ian in this bucket hat he would wear all summer. Probably because I managed to coin him “Floppy Hat Man” (Floppy for short) for a while.

    To the Parsons family, the words “I am so sorry for your loss” don’t do the sentiment justice. Sometimes the words just can’t capture the feelings. But know that I will miss Ian and that all of you are in my thoughts.

  33. I was deeply saddened and surprised when I learned yesterday that Ian had passed. My condolences Edith. While Ian and I did not work closely together, we had many enjoyable conversations over lunch and coffee.

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