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Donald Laishley

$56,400.00 (raised so far)

About Donald Laishley

Born and raised in Nelson, BC, Donald (Don) Laishley graduated with a BSF from UBC in 1960 and went on to lead an interesting and varied forestry career. After working for forest products companies in the Kootenays and the interior of British Columbia, Don joined Forestal International, in Vancouver, where he became President and CEO. In this capacity, he worked in international forest consulting, which took him to projects in 44 countries. During this period, he continued his education by attending the Senior Executive Program at the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

After his time at Forestal, Don became the Woodlands Manager for Weldwood at its Hinton, Alberta, operation. There, Don led the team that managed one million hectares of forest land. He mentored many young foresters, and built a world-class forest management operation and environmental team that was a model across Canada and internationally. Returning to Vancouver, Don continued as Weldwood’s Director of Forest Strategy, where he focused on wildlife habitat biodiversity, model forest practices, and environmental and science issues. Don rounded out his career by consulting to a number of First Nations communities in the Nicola Valley region of British Columbia. In 1996, Don received a Canadian Forestry Achievement Award from the Canadian Institute of Forestry.

In his personal time, Don volunteered for the Hi-C program with the Kamloops United Church, where he mentored high school students. He was also active in federal Liberal politics, and was proud of being a member of the team who worked to have Len Marchand elected as Canada’s first Indigenous Member of Parliament in 1968.

During his time at UBC in the 1950s, Don was manager of the UBC rowing team, whose men’s eight crew won gold at the 1954 British Empire Games, bettering the British shell by two and a half lengths on the Vedder Canal. In 1955, he went to the Henley World Championships, where the eight defeated the heavily favoured Russian crew in the semifinal, before winning the silver medal. In 1999, as part of the rowing team Don was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Don fostered a life-long love of reading and education at UBC, and deep enduring friendships. Later in life, Don re-connected with UBC as a guest lecturer and mentor in forestry, as a member of the Harry Hawthorne Foundation, and as a member of the UBC Library Board.

Don enjoyed bird watching, fly fishing, and hunting. He was a voracious reader and instilled his love of language in his children, grandchildren, and those he mentored. Don loved to tell stories about his experiences and the people he met: his childhood in Nelson, his UBC rowing days, and his trips around the world, many with his wife Mari- Lou.

After a life filled with blessings, Don Laishley passed away on September 18, 2020, at the age of 85 years from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. Don is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marilyn Louise (nee Harrison), daughters Brenda (Bruce Dancik), Deborah (Dave Fenn), Jan (Greg Ewart), son Rob (Marie-Lou Plante), and grandchildren Nicholas, Christopher, William, Christian, Alexi, and Samantha.

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The impact of your support

In honour of Don’s dedication to forestry, Don’s family have created the Don Laishley Memorial Fund. Your gift will pay tribute to Don’s life and career by supporting student awards in Forestry at UBC. Scholarships totalling $4,000 have been made available through an endowment established by family, friends, and colleagues, along with matching funds from the Faculty of Forestry, in memory of Don Laishley (1935-2020), for outstanding undergraduate students in the Faculty of Forestry. Preference will be given to students studying Natural Resources Conservation, Forest Sciences, Forest Resources Management, or Forest Operations.

Messages of Remembrance

All Messages
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  • While Don was at Foothills Model Forest he championed the work of our Social Science Research team at the Northern Forestry Centre of the Canadian Forest Service when few others believed in us. This resulted not only in work of value to the Foothills Model Forest and the Canadian Model Forest Network but trained many young researchers who have gone on to do important work across North America and now train graduate students of their own. None of this would have been possible without Don's support. Don did not share the Model Forest's money easily; we had to justify each study and while we did not always agree we were able to reach a consensus on what work would be done and how it would be done. This meetings often resulted in spirited debate that we now look back on with fondness. Thank you, Don. We will always remember you for taking a chance on us.

    William A (Bill) White, Colleague
  • Building on the legacy of Des Crossley, Don was a driving force in the transition from Sustainable Forestry Management to Sustainable Forest Management on the legendary Hinton Forest. Don also championed the Foothills Model Forest Program, one of the largest and most progressive of the Canadian Model Forest Program, where work continues today as fRI Research. He also served as the Model Forest's first Chair. It was my pleasure and honour to work with Don for several years as one of his managers at Weldwood, and also as President of Foothills Model Forest. Don and Lou were also generous and gracious hosts and many happy hours were spent around their dining room table with their many friends in the Hinton area.

    Robert Udell, Colleague and friend
  • I, unfortunately, don't have any images or video to share but just wanted to share my condolences and how much I enjoyed being able to chat with Don when he had an office at FPInnovations. I learned so much from him and shared a lot of laughs. He will be dearly missed.

    Steph Troughton, Friend from FPInnovations
List of Donors
All Donors
  • Bill White

  • Anonymous Donation

  • William A White

  • Peggy Robinson

  • Deborah Laishley, David Fenn and Family

  • John Pollack & Kathy Howard

  • George & Marg McBride

  • Rick Bonar

  • Deborah Dancik

  • Rob Laishley

  • Bryon & Linda Muhly

  • Bob and Joan Udell

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