Dec. 7th, 1951 - March 6th, 2020
The following obituary is distributed through the United States Universities Council on Geotechnical Education and Research (USUCGER) by Prof. Ben Leshchinsky of Oregon State University.
It is with deep sadness I report to you that Professor Jonathan T. H. Wu passed away last Friday. Dr. Wu has been a professor of geotechnical engineering at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) since 1980. He was a great teacher, mentor, and friend.
Dr. Wu, was the Director of Reinforced Soil Research Center, and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Transportation Infrastructure Geotechnology, has been teaching and conducting research after earning his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Purdue University.
Professor Wu loved to challenge his students to become independent thinkers and be innovative. In his own words: "Teaching adds great joy to my life and expands my mind. I especially enjoy teaching courses such as advanced soil engineering, groundwater and seepage, and design and construction of GRS, courses that are fundamental in nature or have heavy dosages of innovative applications..." Dr. Wu will be greatly missed by all his students.
I asked Dr. Wu’s son, Ivan, to share with me his thoughts about his father, and here is some of what he said: As I’ve spent the past couple days reflecting on my father’s life, I keep coming back to the fact that I’ve always known my father as my father. An extremely calculated and smart man who had a quiet drive to learn more about his field of expertise, Geotechnical Engineering. Quick to tell a funny but always kind-hearted story or experience, and never ever interested in self-promotion or any type of spotlight. He loved Geotech and was dedicated to taking the time to learn and understand every bit that he could. This was a consistent effort over 40 years that started early in his professorship. I fondly remember coloring on punch cards, playing in the soils lab, wondering what all those weird meters/tubes/contraptions were that sat in the corners of the labs, roaming the night-time hallways of CU Denver, sneaking away over to Tivoli to play some video games, and bugging the grad students as they sometimes looked for some excuse to take a bit of a break to play or talk with me for a few minutes. As I look back at all these memories, I realize that all those hours translated to the time, effort, and dedication my dad took to learn, advise, and teach. It was a lot of time and effort, but academia is academia, right? You teach someone and they go off to move onto their careers.
It’s not until after my father’s passing have I, in a short amount of time, seen and experienced the impact that he’s had on so many people – a wide range of people. People that have also become professors, worked in public service, worked in industry, led successful businesses, etc.. It’s touched me deeply to see how greatly respected, appreciated, and loved my dad was outside of the academic setting that I had always known he did well within. He dedicated his life to Geotech and, in turn, many of his colleagues and students became his friends after they experienced or saw his genuine kindness, generosity, sense of humor, modesty, and integrity.
It’s common to see a father being proud of his son. Often a son doesn’t get to hear or learn about the impact his father made on others outside of himself. My father was a great man and I’m happy to say that I’m proud of my dad.
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