Dr. Norman Heaps died on June 26, 1986, in a hospital near his native town of Prescot, U.K., a suburb of Liverpool, after a long illness punctuated by bouts of painful medical treatment for lung cancer. He was the pioneer in Britain of the numerical modeling of tides and storm surges in shelf seas.
He graduated at the University of Liverpool in 1949 with honors in mathematics with subsidiary physics and oceanography. Many years later the same university awarded him a doctorate on the basis of his published work. Norman's first 10 postgraduate years were spent as mathematician in the aircraft industry, but he never felt at home in the industrial world and sought a more academic career. While lecturing at the Royal College of Advanced Technology at Salford, Manchester (now the University of Salford), he struck a lasting friendship with Clifford Mortimer, FRS, then director of the Freshwater Biological Association laboratory at Lake Windermere, who first interested Heaps in the problem of computing the natural seiche oscillations of that lake. The use of electronic computers was still in its infancy, but Heaps saw that the equations of internal oscillations in such a lake could be solved numerically by methods that he had developed in the theory of wing structures. Heaps worked up a Master's thesis on this problem during his summer vacations, and he later worked with Mortimer at the University of Wisconsin on a more advanced scheme involving the coupled oscillations of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.