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Kimmo Innanen (1937–2011)

Published onDec 01, 2012
Kimmo Innanen (1937–2011)

Kimmo Albin Innanen died on August 3, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, due to complications from cancer treatment, after 74 trips around the sun, his favourite way of describing age.

Kim was born on March 12, 1937, in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada, to Albin and Fanny Innanen. At an early age, he moved to Toronto with his parents and his brother Veikko. Kim’s first language was Finnish and his family’s involvement in the active Finnish community assured his continued fluency.

In 1959, he obtained a BASc in Engineering Physics (Aeronautics) with honours from the University of Toronto. He obtained his standing as a Professional Engineer with the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario in 1960, and maintained this standing throughout his life. During this time, he spent his summers working at DeHavilland Aircraft and A. V. Roe of Canada.

In 1960 he received his MSc in Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. His interest turned at this time to astronomy and in 1961 he began his PhD at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Sidney van den Bergh. Here he met his wife-to-be, fellow graduate student Sandra Holm.

In 1963, Kim joined the faculty of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, as a Lecturer, and then, upon completion of his PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy. His thesis entitled "Models of the Distribution of Mass in the Galactic System" was completed in 1964.

In 1966 he moved to Toronto to join the Department of Physics (later Physics and Astronomy) at York University. His research in celestial mechanics, galactic dynamics, and more recently in solar system applications and asteroids, led to the publication of more than 100 papers. In 1990, with Seppo Mikkola, he predicted the existence of “Mars Trojans,” confirmed by subsequent discovery, and, in 1997, he was involved in the discovery of the Earth's first co-orbital companion asteroid, 3753 Cruithne. His continued research with his colleagues, from his retirement in 2002 until his last year, added to the knowledge of Trojan asteroids and near-earth bodies.

Kim's contributions to York University were extensive. As the enthusiastic, proactive Dean of Science from 1986 to 1994, he was instrumental in bringing to York one of the first Ontario Centres of Excellence and in building up the faculty not only by adding a new building, new faculty and staff, but also by integrating the department of Computer Science into the faculty from Arts. He was also one of the Canadian astronomers involved in the creation of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto in 1984 and was a frequent member of the CITA council.

His research brought him together with Finnish astronomers at the Universities of Helsinki and Turku. His contributions to the field were recognized there by the awarding of an honourary degree from the University of Turku in 1995 and the naming of asteroid 3497 (1941HJ) as asteroid ‘Innanen’ in 1992.

His love and support of his family, his enthusiasm for his research and teaching, for classical music and marching bands, for reading, especially history, for travelling with his family, for tennis and skiing and for cottage life, with all its back-to-the-land responsibilities like wood chopping and the truly Finnish sauna, were boundless. His liberal sprinkling of his conversation with puns, often causing groans, but always laughter as well; his ability to solve any household problem, be it electrical, plumbing, carpentry, or any other; and his ability to discuss and pass on his knowledge to the family were so appreciated. He is survived by his wife Sandra and his children Sally, Kristopher, and Andrew, and his grandchildren Rebekah, Holly, Adrian, and Kristin.

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