In memory of
Mr. Rafael Niceto Sanchez
Université Laval

It is with sadness that we learned the death of Mr. Sanchez, on the 20th of May, 2012. He was 87 years old. Retired from Laval University since 1994, he taught at the Department of Geomatics Sciences from 1976. His teaching and research focused on geodetic astronomy and map projections. 

Before coming to Canada with his family at the beginning of his early forties, Mr. Sanchez was already a teacher, scholar and administrator well established in his native country, Argentina. He leaved Argentina for political reasons. Between 1947 and 1975 he was professor at the University of Tucuman and Buenos Aires. He has also been a visiting professor in the Department of Surveying Engineering at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton from 1967 to 1969. Mr. Sanchez was Director of the Department of Surveying at the University of Tucuman from 1957 to 1967 and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the same university from 1971 to 1973. His research projects focused on gravimetry (he made gravity measurements aboard a submarine), the observation of earth tides, the effect of atmospheric refraction on geodetic measurements in mountainous areas and geodetic astronomy. Let us recall that he had completed his training as a land surveyor at the University of Buenos Aires in 1946 and became a civil engineer in 1950. 

He has published his works in the following Geomatics journals : Bulletin Géodésique, Geoacta, Cesterreichischen Zeitschrift für Vermessungswesen, the Canadian Surveyor and Géomatique. He also participated in several international Geodesy Conferences. Member of the Quebec Commission of Sundials, Mr. Sanchez has also designed two magnificent sundials. One is located on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City on the former site of the Astronomical Observatory and the second one is located in the central axis of Laval University’s campus. In a near future, it will bear the name of: Sundial Niceto Rafael Sanchez of Laval University, to honour his memory. 

Mr. Sanchez was a person of impressive presence, always well dressed and polite to everyone. He possessed great general culture in addition to being multilingual. In his spare time, he played Argentinean songs on his harmonica and he was a football (soccer) fan. 

On a personal note, I will always have fond memories of my colleague and former teacher. I remember especially the summer 1981 where I spent many evenings observing stars under the supervision of Mr. Sanchez. These were my first experiences in research in the field of geodesy; they had a profound impact on my future career. 

On behalf of the Department of Geomatics Sciences at Laval University and myself, we extend our sincere sympathy to his wife, his four children and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Rock Santerre, Professor, Department of Geomatics Sciences, Laval University, June 24th, 2012.