Nicholas Paul Fofonoff was born August 18, 1929, and raised on a small farm near Queenstown in Alberta, Canada. His parents spoke only Russian at home, so Nick did not learn English until he attended the two-room school that served the first six grades for the town of 200. He was the second born of four, the prince among three sisters. The small school meant he was exposed to several grades at a time and could advance quickly. He also learned many practical skills on the farm from a clever father and the necessity to be self-sufficient. It was a good environment to nurture an interest in science and mathematics. The young Nick was an inveterate tinkerer, forever repairing or inventing machinery at the blacksmith shop and experimenting with chemicals. His sister tells a story of a trick he liked to play in which a carefully layered test tube of alcohol and water was held against the skin and shaken. The resulting contraction on mixing provided enough suction to hold the test tube in place on the victim. This youthful interest in nonlinear mixing effects turned out to be a long recurring theme of Nick’s research career...
McDougall, T. J., R. W. Schmitt, G. Veronis, and F. Webster. 2005. "The life and work of Nick Fofonoff." Journal of Marine Research 63, (1). https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/journal_of_marine_research/69