Dr. John Herbich Dies at Age 85
Dr. John Herbich
1995 WEDA annual meeting: Dr. Herbich receives the Dredger of the Year award from WEDA president Bubba Savage.
Dr. Herbich, joined the faculty of the Civil Engineering Department at Texas A&M University (TAMU) in 1967 and was instrumental in founding the Coastal and Ocean Engineering Program at TAMU.
His life and work spanned several continents. He was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1922. His family fled Warsaw and then France following the Nazi invasions in 1939 and 1940 along with other government employees. They eventually made their way to England where Dr. Herbich joined the Polish Army under the British command of Field Marshall General Montgomery and Polish command of General Maczek.
He did his undergraduate work at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and then worked as a research engineer at the Delft Hydraulic Laboratory in the Netherlands, including work on several physical models of ports and harbors in the Rhine River. Subsequently, a job offer from Aluminum Company of Canada (ALCAN) brought him to Canada, where he met and married his wife Margaret “Polly” Boylan of New Ross and Chester, Nova Scotia, Canada.
While in Canada, after working as an engineer in Arvida and Chute-du-Diable, Quebec, Dr. Herbich accepted a position to work on a “frontier-type” project in Kitimat, British Columbia. The couple moved to the U.S in 1953 to pursue Dr. Herbich’s graduate studies, where he completed an M.S. at the University of Minnesota (1957), taught at Lehigh University (1957-67) and received his PhD in Civil Engineering at Penn State in 1963. He also did post-doctoral research at U.C. Berkeley.
Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Herbich lectured and taught at many venues, in the U.S. and abroad; he served as consultant to numerous government and international projects involving the engineering design of ports, harbors and coastlines, most notably for the United Nations Development Program at the Khadakwasla Central Water and Power Research Station in Poona, India. He authored over 200 papers and several textbooks, including the groundbreaking Handbook of Dredging Engineering (1992). He was active in many professional societies and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards in his field. In 1990, was named W.H. Bauer Professor of Dredging Engineering at A&M; in 1994, he became Professor Emeritus.
As Professor of Civil and Ocean Engineering at TAMU, Dr. Herbich established the Center for Dredging Studies in 1968, which conducts basic and applied research centered on “real world” problems; he also initiated the TAMU’s annual Dredging Seminar in 1968 and began TAMU’s Dredging Short Courses in 1971, which concerns itself with, among other issues, the practice of dredging and its potential effects on eco-systems and the environment. He conducted model studies of submerged breakwaters, cutter section dredges re-suspension of sediments and wave forces on and around offshore pipelines.
In 2006, the Western Dredging Association presented him with the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual meeting in San Diego. Dr. Herbich's daughter Patricia O'Connor accepted the award on her father's behalf.
Professor Herbich is survived by his wife of 57 years, Margaret “Polly”, three children, Dr. Gregory Herbich of Hawaii, Barbara Herbich of New York, and Patricia O’Connor of California, and a granddaughter, Kaya O’Connor. His daughter Ann pre-deceased him in 1955 at age 3.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 12, 2008, at St. Anthony’s Church in Bryan, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity of your choice or to the TAMU Foundation – John B. Herbich Memorial Fund focusing on supporting students through scholarships and their activities addressed to the attention of: John Small, TAMU Engineering Development Office, 334 Werc, College Station, TX 77843-3126.