May 2, 2012
This article appeared in Berkeley Engineer magazine, Spring 2012

This winter brought word of the passing of three former professors at the college.

  • Charles Kennedy Birdsall, professor emeritus of EECS, died last March at age 86. In 1991, he had retired from teaching after 32 years, but continued to pursue his research into plasma theory.
  • CEE Professor Emeritus Joseph Penzien, founding director of the Berkeley Earthquake Engineering Research Center, died in September at age 86. He developed the world’s first modern shake table in 1972 and co-authored the 1975 textbook Dynamics of Structures.
  • Alumnus and CEE professor Robert E. Selleck (Ph.D.’62 CE) died in September at age 84. He specialized in water and wastewater treatment processes and had served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

The college also lost two doctoral students last fall.

  • EECS student Vadim Karagodsky died in September at age 31. He worked with Constance Chang-Hasnain’s optoelectronics research group and was due to graduate this spring.
  • Gregory J. McCauley (B.S.’03, M.S.’05 ME) died at the age of 30, also in September. He was finishing his doctorate in fluid mechanics, and had been hired by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shortly before his death.

Thomas E. Haynes (B.S.’44 ME) died in August at the age of 89. Haynes served as first lieutenant in the U.S. Army in World War II and as a reservist in the Korean War. During his career, he worked for the U.S. government in the foreign aid program in the Philippines as a management consultant for Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He retired in 1987 as vice president for planning at Cleveland State University.

John Alfred Martin

John Alfred Martin (B.S.’43 CE) died in December at age 91. Martin played baseball while majoring in civil engineering at Cal. He founded John A. Martin and Associates, which became one of the largest privately owned structural and civil engineering companies in the world.

During his career, which spanned more than 50 years, Martin engineered iconic structures in Los Angeles and beyond, including the Staples Center, the Mirage in Las Vegas and San Diego’s convention center. Martin was also an engaged citizen and involved in many civic endeavors. He received the 1990 Humanitarian Award from the Los Angeles Council of Christians and Jews and was recognized by the American Legion for helping to found several baseball leagues for youth. Martin founded a scholarship endowment fund at the College of Engineering.

(Photo courtesy John A. Martin and Associates)

Blair V. Jarrett (B.S.’70 EECS) died in October at the age of 74. Jarrett worked as an electrical engineer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for many years.

Carl J. Krantz (B.S.’63 EE) died last fall at age 72. Krantz served in the U.S. Navy and worked as an electrical engineer for Litton Systems for 38 years.

Gordon R. Nakagawa (B.S.’58 EE) died in August at age 76. A career naval officer, Nakagawa spent 32 years in the Navy and was deployed to Vietnam four times. His plane was shot down in 1972, and he was imprisoned in the notorious “Hanoi Hilton.” His last active duty assignment was as chairman for tactical analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he continued to teach after retiring from the military. Of many honors and awards, Nakagawa received two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

Henry J. Ongerth (B.S.’35 CE) died in August at age 98. Ongerth received his master’s in public health in 1950 from the University of Michigan, and worked in the California State Health Department for 40 years before retiring as chief in 1979. Ongerth also chaired the Conference of State Sanitary Engineers, served on the USEPA National Drinking Water Advisory Committee and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. A UC Berkeley scholarship fund to support students in civil and environmental engineering has been established in his honor.

Samuel R. Sanford (B.S.’66 EECS) died in December. Sanford served in the Army, the Navy and the National Guard Army Corps Reserves. He worked for Navalex at Mare Island for 36 years before retiring.

William Ryan Sibbett (B.S.’50 EE) of Klamath Falls, Oregon, died in August at age 85. Sibbett served as a naval radio officer in World War II. Upon graduation and for much of his career, he worked for the S&C Electric Company.

Robertson Stevens (M.S.’50 EECS) died in November at age 89. He had a 42-year career with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he focused on construction of the Deep Space Network.

Farrel A. Stewart (B.S.’47 CE) died in January at the age of 89. A World War II veteran, Stewart was awarded a Purple Heart, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. He served in the Army Reserves until retirement at the rank of major in June 1964. He later worked for Standard Oil, F.K. Pinney, Inc. and the Benicia Arsenal. He served as city engineer and city manager in Concord, California, where he designed the first city hall.

Orlando A. Tafoya (B.S.’53 ME) died in October at age 80. Tafoya worked on NASA’s Apollo 11, among other space programs. He was an athlete and coached Little League and basketball teams.

Richard M. Thatcher (Ph.D.’68 IEOR) died in December at age 85. Thatcher served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army during World War II and retired from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1991.

Roger R. Webster (B.S.’43 EE) died in October at age 91. After graduation, Webster joined a group working on radar jamming systems at Harvard Radio Research Laboratory. Later, he worked at Stancil-Hoffman; at Cal Tech on the Manhattan Project; and at Texas Instruments, where he helped develop the first transistor “pocket” radio. Webster also served as the U.S. chairman of IEEE Integrated Circuits Committee.

Topics: Alumni, Faculty