With profound sadness, we mourn the passing of Dr. Chuji Hiruki, Professor Emeritus, of Edmonton, on November 15, 2021, at the age of 90 years. He will be remembered by his wife of 60 years, Yasuko; his son Tadaaki (Kayoko) and grandson Tadahiro; his daughter Lisa (Nate), grandson Alec, and granddaughter Mika; siblings Tomiko, Sachiko, Toshinobu (Michiko), Takeo (Mitsuko) and Mihoko (Hisayoshi) and their children. He was predeceased by his parents, Chuichi and Mitsu Hiruki.
Chuji, born and raised in Fukue, Japan, was the eldest son of a farmer. He received a B.Sc. from Kyushu University, worked at the Hatano Tobacco Experimental Station, and received a Fulbright Research Scholarship to study in the United States, then returned to Kyushu University for a Ph.D. He went to the University of California as a visiting scientist and the University of Wisconsin as an honorary fellow, then joined the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Alberta in 1966 as a plant pathology professor.
Chuji’s research focused on the characterization, diagnosis, and control of important plant diseases caused by viruses and mycoplasmas. He was a worldwide authority on mycoplasma disease, had a pivotal role in defining a new virus family, the dianthovirus group, and pioneered the use of genetic information as the basis for virus classification.
Chuji was active in professional societies and as an international consultant on biotechnological and agricultural issues. He created one of the most productive virus research programs in Canada, with a postgraduate education program that attracted many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from around the world.
Chuji was recognized with many awards and honours, including the McCalla Professorship, American Phytopathology Fellow, Royal Society of Canada Fellowship, University of Alberta Distinguished University Professor, Canadian Phytopathological Society Fellow, J. Gordin Kaplan Award for Excellence in Research, and Canadian Phytopathological Society Outstanding Research Award. He retired in 1996, but continued his plant pathology research. In 2008, he was made an honorary member of the International Society of Plant Pathology. In 2018, Chuji was conferred the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette, an award of appreciation from the Emperor of Japan to those who have made distinguished contributions to their field.
Chuji loved flowers and gardening, photography, and traveling. He especially enjoyed cultivating and studying camellias. After his retirement, he researched the history of his hometown of Fukue and continued his involvement with flowers as the vice-president of the International Camellia Society. He was also recognized by the city of Fukue with a Distinguished Citizen Award. He enjoyed visits from his grandchildren and watching them grow up.
A private service will be held. The family wishes to thank the staff of the West Edmonton Kidney Care dialysis clinic for their care over the past years, and to the University of Alberta Hospital Unit 5F4 during his final days.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Chuji Hiruki’s name may be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada (https://kidney.ca) at 880-5160 Decarie Blvd., Montreal, QC H3X 2H9.