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John Arnfield Heap, 1932-2006

Home 9 News 9 In Memoriam 9 John Arnfield Heap, 1932-2006

John Arnfield Heap, the Society’s Treasurer for over 30 years has died at the age of 74

It is with great sadness that I write to tell you that John Heap, our Treasurer for more than 30 years, died earlier today. The Society has lost a very capable member and Officer. His wide ranging experience has served the Society well for a very long time. When I took over as Secretary General in 2003 John took me under his wing and became a very good friend and Mentor. Always there to answer any questions I had, his advice was always very sound and something I had come to rely upon. Sadly, he has now moved on. The loss to the Society is Great but even up till the very last he had the well being of the Society at heart. Only this morning he told his wife Peggy that he hoped the IGS would be able to find a capable Treasurer to replace him.

He was awarded the Society’s Richardson Medal in 1999.

He was Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute from 1992–97, and was before that at the Polar Region Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which he headed between 1975 and 1992.

IGS President Atsumu Ohmura has written a letter of condolence on behalf of the Society to John’s widow, Peggy.

Below are a few words from some of our former Presidents:

“John will be very greatly missed by the glaciological community, not only for his work as Treasurer but also for his wise advice on many aspects of our work. He was always so much fun to be with too..A very great loss to us all.”

Liz Morris IGS President 2002–2005

“How difficult for me to think of IGS without John Heap! He has always been such an integral part of the Society, always in good humour, often representing the good conscience when difficult decisions had to be taken by Council. It was a sad message to receive, somewhat softened by the remembrance of a fine person.”

Hans Röthlisberger IGS President 1984–1987

“During my time as an IGS President, the Society was attempting to stabilize its financial situation. John was a rock of stability and good advice. I valued his wise council and his good humor greatly. Dealing with him was always a pleasure. He will be greatly missed.”

Willy W. F. Weeks IGS President 1972–1975

“I knew John Heap as early as the 1950s. That the Society has remained not only successful, but also solvent, is largely due to his dedication in his office as Honorary Treasurer through so many years. We knew that we could always rely on his wisdom and proper caution in guiding our financial affairs. I am very sad to learn of his death and shall certainly miss him as a much valued friend.”

John Nye IGS President 1966–1969

“What a sad message! My term as President started when Hilda retired and Simon took office as Secretary General. John represented the tradition and history of IGS, and at the same time he was open to changes. His wise advices were of utmost importance to me. I will remember him with much joy as a good friend, always with a friendly smile and a good story.”

Bjørn Wold IGS President 1993–1996

Any IGS member who took the time to read ICE or pay even the slightest attention to IGS’s reports knew that John Heap served IGS as its Treasurer for many years (more than 30 it turns out). But those more directly involved with IGS operations knew the major role John Heap played in the Society, most of it in the background. His counsel was of immeasurable value. His years at the UK’s Foreign Office gave him a remarkable ability to see to the core of an issue, and clearly state the nub of the point. Often this alone made the solution obvious. When it did not, John was able to take his counsel to the next step of carefully evaluating the options and compare them to the Society’s needs and objectives. No organization can succeed without this level of expertise close to the organization’s center. IGS was blessed to receive this type of unassuming support from John.
John gave so generously to the Society because he cared so much for it. He was an unwavering believer in the need for the Society, its role in science and its purpose as a professional organization of international science. He was a kind, stalwart, wise lieutenant who advised many IGS Presidents and each of our three Secretary Generals. He became a dear friend of us all. He will be greatly missed.

Robert Bindschadler IGS President 1999–2002

The funeral service was held at Cambridge Crematorium on Friday 17 March.
There will be a Thanksgiving Service at Harston Parish Church at 3 pm on Saturday 6 May, with refreshments afterwards (donations to Water Aid or Mount Everest Foundation, c/o Cook Funeral Directors, 01954-260325).