Geoff Zeiss, one of Canada's geospatial technology trailblazers, passed away peacefully at home after a protracted battle with cancer. Geoff led an amazing and accomplished life. He was devoted husband and life partner of Ellen. He is survived by Ellen, his brothers, Christopher of Edmonton and Andrew of Sissach, Switzerland, and nephews Sebastion, Jaronas, and David of Switzerland.
Geoff received his undergraduate degree at Cornell in 1967. He completed his PhD in theoretical chemistry at McGill in 1976. Post docs followed at the University of Western Ontario and UBC. By 1981 he had transitioned from research to a new career as an information systems analyst in the Vancouver offices of the DPA group, a planning and management consulting firm. In 1986 he embarked on what would become his future career passion in geospatial analysis first in Ottawa with TYDAC Technologies, then Vision Solutions, and finally to Autodesk. After leaving Autodesk, Geoff continued to offer his knowledge and experience to the world via lectures, papers, organizing conferences, and advisory roles for industry associations and national and international conferences and organizations concerned with public infrastructure and spatial software. Geoff created a thought leadership blog, Between the Poles, where he addressed infrastructure issues and updates which continues today under the care of GoGeomatics Canada.
Geoff exuded an innate talent for translating the potential of emerging and increasingly complex spatial technologies into real systems for managing practical engineering solutions for some of the world's largest telecom and hydro utilities. Throughout the years Geoff was recognized for his dedication and efforts with many international awards for his participation and contributions to numerous conferences.
Geoff was interested in the world at large and the people he met. He was a voracious reader and observant photographer. His sense of humour was funny and insightful. His wine tasting events at home and at work were legendary, as was his infectious and hilarious laughter as events progressed.
Ellen and Geoff loved cycling, hiking, and cross country skiing in the Gatineau Hills. They travelled frequently to Europe where they pursued their interest in art, architecture, opera, music, and live theatre. Geoff's life and journey was a model of commitment to Ellen, to friends and colleagues, and to society.
A memorial service will be held at Beechwood Cemetery, 280 Beechwood Avenue on September 21, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers please give a donation to the Geoff Zeiss Urban Infrastructure Mapping Fund at Carleton University at https://futurefunder.carleton.ca/giving-fund/geoff-zeiss-urban-infrastructure-mapping-fund/
Geoff Zeiss was an important part of my life both professionally and personally.
Geoff and I first met in the early 1980s when we both worked at DPA Consulting in Vancouver. We quickly became friends. My work typically was survey or data-intensive and Geoff invariably was able to convert the raw information into meaningful statistics, tables and graphs. He “made me look good” in the eyes of the clients.
When Geoff moved to Ottawa in the mid to late 1980s, I would look him up when I visited Ottawa and Geoff and Ellen would look me up when they visited Vancouver. We also kept in touch through phone calls. Our relationship continued and flourished.
Today is a time for reflection but also a time for stories. I have three stories about Geoff to tell, each of which revolves around a different type of ethnic food in Vancouver, a passion of his.
In the 1980s we often went to a simple Chinese restaurant that at the time was one of the few that served live rockfish. Before preparation the waiter would bring the live fish in a rubber bucket to the table to prove that it was indeed live and hardy. Geoff was always enthralled at the ceremony. And the fish with green onions and ginger was always delicious.
One time we went to a Japanese restaurant at which we were sitting in chairs around the fish display counter. Geoff ordered live sea urchin, a winter specialty, and jumped on top of his chair to get a better look at the chef extracting the roe or uni. I was surprised to say the least.
Finally there was a memorable meal at a Thai restaurant. The menu had a code system with images of chili peppers to designate the level of heat desired. Geoff bypassed the system and ordered a dish “as hot as you can make it”. The waiter was taken aback and had to confirm the order. When the dish was served, the whole kitchen staff came from the back and surrounded the table to observe. Geoff did not say anything for several minutes as he ate. Finishing the plate, all he said was “yes that is hot”.
In addition, I remember his giving wine tasting events, seeing the theatre at Stratford and taking trips to the historic cities of Europe such as Vienna, Geoff was an interesting person.
Thank you Geoff for being a good friend and workmate. Knowing you enriched my life. I will continue to hear your voice and your infectious laugh.
Rest in peace. Amen
Geoff was such a wonderful and positive influence in all he did in the geospatial community. I enjoyed many many conversations and learned a great deal from his knowledge which he was always happy to share. He will be greatly missed.
I met Geoff at my time at Autodesk. I'm in Geospatial, too.
So for me, he was THE one Person with the deepest knowledge of what GIS can do for us. Thanks for sharing ideas with you, all the best and condolences to the family. Frank from Man and Machine Germany
I have had the honour of knowing Geoff for almost 15 years and have the highest regards for his intellect, deep understanding of the subject (Geospatial technologies) and his writing. I was touched by his humble and gentle nature and have learnt so much from his work. Geoff will surely be missed by many many Geospatial enthusiasts. My prayers are with his family ?? May his soul rest in peace ??
Geoff was a dear friend and mentor to me. I first met Geoff at GoGeomatics socials in Ottawa. The last time I visited with Geoff we talked about his passion on underground mapping. He was really driven and exited about the future of the sector. I was honored when he asked me to take over his blog Between the Poles and keep it going. I will always be grateful to Geoff for his leadership and support.
I am saddened to hear this news. We have lost a passionate geospatial advocate—my condolences to the family.
We lost an exceptional advocate for infrastructure data. Geoff was relentless and really fun to work with. I see him as the grandfather of many initiatives, including some of the emerging OGC standards in this space. He has been an excellent mentor to me and I think fondly of our last dinner in Ottawa, just before the COVID lockdown started. You will be remembered.
Ellen, I'm so sorry to hear of Geoff's passing. He (and you) were mentors in my early career days and I so appreciated his humor and deep commitment to things he felt important. Take care, our thoughts are with you.
I worked under Geoff's supervision at TYDAC for 2 years as a Documentation Analyst. These years were the most stimulating in my career: I was able to apply SGML to define the user interfaces of SPANS products. In 1990, web pages were text. Today, new web pages are written in HTML and XML. In 1990, I was coding web pages in SGML to define dialog boxes. It was great stuff.
Geoff relied on my Mac Experience to implement the graphical user interfaces, standardize the language used in SPANS products, and define a methodology for translating those interfaces. We were making strides in new grounds. He trusted me and often asked my point of view. He enjoyed my insights. I really felt appreciated.
I met him in Barcelona during a GIS conference a few years ago. He was a speaker. I found his bright eyes. Laughing out loud, to his surprise, he told me that I was a Romance language guy since I speak English, French, and Spanish, and I understand Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Valencian, and Galician. It was a tongue in cheek, but I think he wished had the same skill set.
It was very good to meet him in Spain after more than 10 years after I left TYDAC.
To all of you who were close to Geoff, I offer my condolences. I recall his authenticity.
Greetings from Barcelona, Spain.
I met Geoff from our mutual work in the geospatial technology realm. Despite us both living in Ottawa, more often, we spent time together at conferences around the world. Geoff was a delight to spend time with, and discuss a wide array of topics with, every time we were together. I have fond memories of Geoff, and will miss him sorely.