Claire Minkley, the Victoria
teenager who worked with the University of Victoria Assistive Technology
Team (UVATT) to develop a communication system based on brainwaves,
died on Dec. 9. Claire was born with a rare genetic disorder that
left her with formidable challenges that most of us would consider
insurmountable. She was unable to speak and had virtually no voluntary
muscle control. Despite this, Claire in her short life accomplished
a huge amount. She graduated from Oak Bay High School with an A
average and enrolled in two classes (physics and mathematics) at
UVic. Meanwhile, she worked with members of UVATT on a major research
project to develop a communication system that would allow her,
as she said, “to put words to my music.” This project
was ambitious and very challenging, and some members (all volunteers)
of the team put in literally thousands of hours of work. There were
moments of exhilaration and some of extreme disappointment. Claire
and her family never gave up hope. On her last visit to the university,
Claire undertook some tests which gave very encouraging results.
She and her father went home in high spirits. That night Claire
died. She had been due to return to the university the next day.
Claire brought extraordinary joy and pride to her family. She was
a huge inspiration to all who met her, and it was a privilege to
work with her. We are all deeply saddened by her death.
Contributed by Dr. Nigel Livingston (biology),
co-ordinator of UVATT.
Phillip T. Young, former chair
of the department of music and namesake of the university’s
recital hall, died Dec. 9 after a brief illness. Born in 1926 in
Massachusets, Phil was a graduate of Bowdoin College and subsequently
Yale. After teaching for some years at the Taft School in Connecticut,
he came to Victoria in 1969 as department chair. Phil refused to
accept the notion that a first-class music school could only exist
in a large centre, and he persuaded the UVic administration to let
the department—later the school of music—assemble the
nucleus of a complete faculty, including performers as well as academics.
His energy and unshakeable optimism saw the school through many
difficult days. Phil was a bassoonist and an organologist—a
specialist in the history of musical instruments. Two of his publications,
2,500 Historical Woodwind Instruments: An Inventory of the Major
Collections and 4,900 Historical Woodwind Instruments, have become
standard reference works in the discipline. In 1980 he organized
The Look of Music at the Vancouver Museum, an exhibition of musical
instruments assembled from collections in Europe and Russia. In
1989 he was given the Kurt Sachs Award, the highest honour for a
musical instrument historian, and in 1991 he was elected president
of the American Musical Instrument Society. He retired from full-time
faculty in 1991, but for several years after, taught the occasional
Contributed by Michael Longton, director of the
school of music.