Professor remembered for his achievements

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PROFESSOR Albert Willis’ career took him a long way from where he started life – a cramped home in Portsmouth.

Now the emeritus educator has been remembered for his astonishing working life having died in Sydney, Australia, at the age of 97.

Prof Willis travelled to Australia with his family, arriving on January 26, 1950 to take up the position of senior lecturer at the newly established New South Wales University of Technology, now the University of New South Wales.

But he started his life in Portsmouth, born Albert Henry Willis on December 23, 1917 to George and Fanny Willis, he was the youngest of five children.

The family was not at all well off and lived in cramped conditions in South Street, Portsmouth.

Albert got a job as an apprentice engine fitter at the age of 15, and started five years of training at Portsmouth Dockyard.

He attended Kings College, University of London before returning to Portsmouth to build an air raid shelter for his sister and eventually rejoining the dockyard.

Following the war in 1945, Albert took an assistant lectureship position at Kings College.

In 1946, the post was raised to lectureship with improved salary and for the next four years he worked for his PhD.

Albert applied for professor of mechanical engineering at the New South Wales University of Technology, and was successful.

He and his wife and two young children sailed from England on December 22, 1949, landing in Sydney in 1950. Albert started the department of agricultural engineering which carried out research into the needs of the agricultural industry in New South Wales.

In 1956 he became the third dean of the faculty of engineering while continuing his position as head of mechanical engineering.

In 1967 he was appointed to as one of three pro-vice chancellors of the university and retired on July 23, 1978.

The university bestowed the title of emeritus professor upon him and he was asked to write the history of the university, which was published in 1983.

Albert Willis died on June 2, 2015, aged 97 and his funeral took place in Sydney on June 9.

He is survived by his second wife, Annie, his two children, five grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.