February 28, 1939 - February 22, 2024

Surrounded by loving family, Lawrence Van Caeseele, husband, father, son, and grandfather, passed peacefully on February 22, a few days before his 85th birthday. A kind man of immeasurable patience, integrity and depth, he will be dearly missed.

He leaves his loving wife Corliss of 57 years, children Paul and Rachel (Todd), and grandchildren Luke, Mark and Eric, and Violet and Jasper. He also leaves two sisters, Mildred (Jim) and Marge (Donald), many nieces and nephews, in-laws, and friends to mourn his passing.

Lawrence was born to Henry and Irma (Degryse) in Langenburg, Saskatchewan on the family farm. He was the ninth of ten children, four sisters and six brothers in all. Stories about his youth were full of mischief, laughter, hard work and love of family. He graduated high school as valedictorian, and was a member of the air cadets.

He entered the RCAF in 1957, and was stationed in Chattham, New Brunswick, where he completed flight training on the F-106 Sabre fighter jet. After an honourable discharge, he came to Winnipeg, where he met Corliss at a dance for student nurses. They later married in 1966, after agreeing to do so only on the second date. 

First a technician at Cadham Provincial Laboratory, he then began his studies at the University of Manitoba in microbiology. He completed his PhD in 1970, becoming an expert in electron microscopy and scientific photography. He became a Professor in the Department of Botany, teaching thousands of students genetics, microbiology and advanced microscopy until he retired in 2001. Many of his students remember his warmth, and gift for teaching complex concepts with clarity and simplicity.

His career took him on sabbaticals abroad to Dublin, Heidelberg and Tubingen, where he made fast friends with colleagues and graduate students. Neighbours quickly cleaved to him because of his natural deftness at boule, and easy enjoyment of wine. He also taught university biology to Canadian NATO troops stationed in Germany where his good humour and fairness won respect from up and down the chain of command.

A lifelong pilot, Lawrence owned a Piper Clipper, and was a regular visitor to the prairie skies. He was a swimmer, runner, curler, skier, golfer and hockey player, making lifelong friends wherever he set his club or stick. He was astonishingly capable of almost any craft - carpentry, plumbing, wiring, mechanics and knitting. 

He enjoyed poetry and read avidly. He liked to read humorous classics out loud to his children, but with limited success, as he would laugh so hard he could not go on. In possession of a prodigious memory covering a vast array of subjects, he was the man you wanted on your Trivial Pursuit team.

Lawrence and Corliss travelled frequently to visit family and to make and maintain friendships, keeping in regular virtual contact when circumstances changed. He canvassed annually for charities, and built houses for the poor in Mexico. He coached his son’s hockey team, and was a volunteer judge for school and city science fairs. His faith was a source of strength, and he was a devoted member of his church. He gave generously, and was a spirited volunteer, ever ready with both his hands and his heart.

Special thanks to Dr. James Johnston, and also to the staff of the Riverview Palliative Care unit, who provided excellent and compassionate care in his final days. 

The service will take place on Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Ignatius Church, 255 Stafford Street, Winnipeg. Fr. Frank Obrigewitsch will preside. All who knew Lawrence are warmly welcomed to attend.

A live stream of the service may be found here:

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Ignatius Church.



Funeral Service

11:00 am
Thursday, March 7, 2024
St. Ignatius Church
255 Stafford Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


St. Vital Roman Catholic Cemetery
826 Crescent Drive
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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