Thoughts about Dr. Ronald D'Costa 1936-2003

It is with sincerest condolences that we announce the death of Professor Ronald B. D'Costa, retired professor in the Department of Sociology. Professor D'Costa died suddenly in hospital, Sunday, May 4, at the age of 66. He is survived by his wife Trudy, children Inez and Robert (Corrina), Jennifer, and Michael, as well as one grandchild, Ava.

Ronald was a very fine person as well as a valued and highly regarded colleague. He served as chair of the department of Sociology at the University of Ottawa (in fact he was chair when I and many other veterans were hired in the 1970s) and also served as Associate Dean Academic of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Ron was born in British India, got his first degree in Bombay, then moved on to Europe for graduate studies, receiving his doctorate in demography at the Catholic University of Louvain. It was in Louvain that he met his Dutch wife Trudy (At the funeral home a couple of weeks ago, I was told the interesting story of their meeting by Trudy's sister, who introduced them...).

Ronald's first academic position was in the Congo where he taught for several years, just after independence. After a short stint at Acadia University in Wolfville, Ronald came to the University of Ottawa around 1970. Having received his training in both French and English, he was a natural for the institution and for Ottawa, an obvious "good fit". He taught in both languages from the start, and became and remained a key person in the department until his retirement a few years ago.

Ron was a private person, but always courteous and polite in an "old school" sort of way. One very special activity of his should be mentioned: In 1978 when many Vietnamese and Cambodian "boat people" were seeking entry to Canada, Ron and Trudy along with their parish priest organized a collective sponsorship of a Cambodian refugee family. A dozen or so colleagues and friends including myself joined the D'Costas in financing the family's expenses for a year or two. The family quickly settled and their children are making their way in Ottawa.

In recent years Ronald came by the department from time to time to visit. It is hard to believe he is gone, he will be sorely missed.

Leslie Laczko, University of Ottawa


Ronald d'Costa died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of sixty-six. He had taken early retirement several years ago when the Ontario Government offered early retirement packages to rejuvenate the professoriate. He dropped by the department from time to time, seemingly in great shape and thoroughly enjoying his new status. Unfortunately his enjoyment would not last long. His death came as a shock to those of us who knew and admired him. I found it striking that people who knew Ronald D'Costa best - his colleagues, his brother, and others - independently made the same comment on learning of his passing: Ron was a man of profound integrity. You could be certain that he would treat people fairly and would stick by his principles. Along with his organizational talents and decisiveness, this was a quality that resulted in his success in the roles he accepted as university administrator: department chair and associate dean. He was also particularly attentive to the special needs of foreign students, perhaps because of his own life pathway and professional interest in migration. At the Department of Sociology at the University of Ottawa we have fond memories of this man of character, his smile and good cheer, who exemplified collegiality.

Raymond Murphy, Ottawa


Dr. Ronald D'Costa, who took an early retirement in 1994 from his position as Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Ottawa, passed away suddenly of heart attack on May 4, 2003 at the age of 66. As a dear friend and colleague, he was known to us for over three decades. It is worth noting that he was one of the architects of the Canadian Population Society and a respected colleague of the demographic community in Canada.

Ronald D'Costa was born in India (Goa). After obtaining a Masters degree from Bombay University, he went for higher studies to the University of Louvain (Belgium), where he received a Ph.D. in social demography in 1963. He then joined the University of Kinshasa, Congo as lecturer, and taught there for two years. From Congo he proceeded to Canada and joined the Department of Sociology, Acadia University, Nova Scotia, as Assistant Professor. From Acadia he moved to the Department of Sociology, University of Ottawa as Associate Professor and later became Professor. He also held several important administrative positions at the University: Chair, Department of Sociology, 1973-76; and Associate Dean Academic, Faculty of Social Sciences, 1985-87.

Ronald D'Costa was among the founders of the Canadian Population Society, and served as its first Vice-President, 1974-76, and Secretary Treasurer, 1978-80. He was also a member, Board of Directors, Federation of Canadian Demographers, 1982-84, and its Secretary Treasurer, 1984-86. He also served as Chair, Local Organizing Committee for the National Symposium of the Federation of Canadian Demographers in Ottawa, 1995.

Dr. D'Costa's main areas of interests were: migration/immigration to Canada; socio-demographic characteristics of immigrants and of ethnic groups. He taught courses in demography, minority groups, ethnic/ race relations; sociology of development and social change. He has several articles and research papers to his credit in the areas of immigration in Canada, especially from South and South-East Asia. He also served as Co-Editor of Canada 2000: Race Relations and Public Policy.

Besides Ronald D'Costa's professional contributions and achievements, his qualities as a warm, gentle, and caring person, and dedicated teacher to the principle of "transmitting the knowledge" will be remembered by his many colleagues, students and friends. He is survived by his wife (Trudy), two sons, two daughters, and one grandchild.

M.V. George, Statistics Canada & Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta
Anatole Romaniuc, Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta