Tuesday, May 21, 2013


About three years ago, my father Victor Steenackers, at the age of 82 faded away.
Papa always has been a man of little words, especially on paper. However, he left us in his basement an enormous archive with papers, documents, letters, name cards and books and articles, from colleague-scientists in all different domains, but always with a link to nature, forestry, genetics, society, history, geography. And of course, thousands and thousands of pictures of poplars.

From these documents it is clear he maintained a mutual and intense exchange of ideas, suggestions, plant material with colleagues worldwide.

After I lost my job, I took a sabbatical period and dove back into papa's professional life. I got the help of his beloved wife, and my mother, whose memory is filled with the nightly monologues on poplar breeding, and "politics".

He brought the sense of poplar balsam every evening at home, but only a few of us had the chance to cooperate with him on his lifetime passion as a forest tree breeder.
I got the help of his daughter, and my sister, Marijke, who worked since her graduation in 1984 as a biologist, with papa on forest tree pathology and breeding, and still continues papa's work.
I was lucky to work on poplar wood quality, under his guidance, from 1988 till 1998. And therefore learned to know him, out of the family context, in a professional setting.
Papa treasured his flemish roots, but overall he was a cosmopolitan.
He has travelled a lot, spoke different languages, often acted as an interpreter between his companions, and above all treated everyone he met, from workman to noblesse, with a great respect for humanity, never loosing his dignity.
He avoided mediocrity and narrowness "do as you can, according to your gifts and talents. Work hard but/and enjoy Life..."
He loved to live, enjoying a good companion, a good table and glass, never ending observing and registering his surroundings.
He was a faithful man, in its own way. "I meet God in my work, day after day".

He was a very "condensed writer" and didn't fill kilograms of paper ; science, based on knowledge and creativity, had to be to the profit of the community and not to generate own praise and glory. And also to us, his children, he was very scarce with compliments. But his wink made us radiate.

Let this blog be our compliment to a great familyman.

Jan Steenackers, May 2013
 You may contact us through this blog or by email jan.steenackers@gmail.com

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