In Memoriam

Apr 18 2018

Robert D. Stoll, Professor Emeritus

Professor Emeritus Robert D. Stoll, a noted expert in sediment acoustics, passed away on September 17, 2016, following a long illness.

Stoll was born in Lincoln, IL, on August 12, 1931. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1953. Starting in 1954, he spent two years in French Morocco as part of the U.S. Navy’s  Civil Engineer Corps; he left active duty as a lieutenant junior grade and the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1965. As a lieutenant, Stoll received his doctorate in civil engineering from Columbia University in 1962, where he then spent the remainder of his research and teaching career. Upon retirement from the Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department, he continued to be associated with Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, NY, where he was  a visiting senior research scientist.

Stoll was internationally renowned in his field. He published more than 60 papers and two books over a forty-year career at Columbia. He supervised many doctoral students who rose to high positions in industry, academia, and government.  Always the craftsman, he built much of his experimental apparatus in his basement machine shop.

Stoll is survived by his wife of 54 years, June (née Rye); three children: Russell Stoll of Alexandria, VA, and Kirsten Pelekis of Ridgewood, NJ, and Erica Onofrio of Fairfield, CT; and six grandchildren.



John “Jack” Pegram MS’41, an entrepreneur in hydraulics, died on December 3, 2016, at the age of 99 in Los Gatos, California.

Pegram was born in 1916 and raised in New York City, where his father, George Braxton Pegram, was a physics professor at Columbia University and served as dean of the School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry and as a vice president of the University.

From an early age, Pegram demonstrated an aptitude for mathematics and engineering. At age 12, he became the youngest amateur radio operator to receive a license, and he started college at Columbia when he was 16. He earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia in 1941, when World War II prompted him to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He was assigned to the engineering corps and met his future wife, WAVES servicewoman Jean Bohacket, at a Navy house party.

Pegram worked at McCulloch Motors in the Los Angeles area, then conducted hydraulic research for NASA. He was awarded numerous patents for his innovations and founded multiple companies based on his work on jet pipe servovalves with  fellow engineer Raymond Atchley. 

Jack and Jean Pegram prioritized charity throughout their lives. A believer in the adage, “You learn something new every day,” he espoused energy for both the subjects and the people he loved.

Pegram is survived by his children, David Pegram and Sarah Pegram Maples, and grandchildren, Rachel and Robert.


Jerome L. Sackman MS’55, EngScD’59 passed away on December 8, 2016. Sackman, a leading authority in structural mechanics, served on the faculty at UC Berkeley for 31 years. He was 87.

After earning his BCE from Cooper Union in 1951, Sackman received his doctorate from Columbia University, with top honors, in 1959. While a student, he received a two-year Guggenheim Fellowship and was a member of Sigma Xi. He held positions as an instructor and assistant professor in the Guggenheim Institute of Flight Structures in Columbia’s Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department from 1958 to 1960. Prior to entering academia, he served on active duty with the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant from 1952 to 1954.

Sackman joined the UC Berkeley Civil and Environmental Engineering Department in 1960 and was promoted to full professor in 1966, remaining in that role until retiring in 1991. Upon retirement, Sackman was selected as program director of  the National Science Foundation’s new Division of Mechanical and Structural Systems, where he served from 1991 to 1993. He then returned to UC Berkeley as professor emeritus of engineering science and continued to teach and do research on finite element analysis of solids and structures.  He also worked at universities in Chile, Taiwan, and Sweden.

Sackman was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1992. In 1994, ASCE honored him with its highest award, the Nathan M. Newmark Medal, for strengthening the scientific base of structural engineering. He received the Berkeley Citation, the university’s highest distinction, in 1996. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a fellow of American Academy of Mechanics, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of  Science.

Sackman gained international renown in structural mechanics. He was known as an authority in the identification of viscoelastic and other mechanical characteristics of structural elements.

He had a reputation as a dedicated teacher, known as someone who gave generously of his time and counsel to colleagues, younger faculty, students, and collaborators, and within professional societies. He also loved basketball and baseball—which he avidly played when younger, world  travel, art museums, the theater, fine cuisine, and good company.

Sackman was predeceased by his wife Sandra (Gelberg) in 2011. He is survived by his two daughters, sons-in-law, and five grandchildren.


Michael Myers BS’62, MS’63, PhD’66, a former Columbia professor, passed away on October 29, 2016.

Myers was born in Portland, OR. He earned a BA from Willamette University in 1961 before coming east to enroll in Columbia College as part  of the 3/2 BA/BS program.

After graduation, he stayed on at the University to receive his MS and PhD, where Mort Friedman was his thesis adviser.  Upon graduation, Myers joined the Engineering School’s faculty, where he developed a reputation as an excellent teacher and also as a promising researcher in aeroacoustics.

Myers served as associate professor at Columbia for almost a decade. He moved to George Washington University (GWU) in 1973 with a special assignment  to establish the Joint Institute for Advancement of Flight Sciences, in affiliation with the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. In this capacity, he educated hundreds of students and published dozens of papers, including a 1980 seminal analysis of the boundary conditions on sound in fluid flows, which established the Myers Boundary Condition.

Through those years, he was known as a great collaborator and true friend. In 2000, he was appointed chairman of  the GWU Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and resided in Arlington, VA; he passed away at his home in nearby Williamsburg.

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