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AAWRE Honors the Life and Legacy of John Cassidy
AAWRE honors the life and legacy of Dr. John (Jack) J. Cassidy, who passed away peacefully on July 31, 2022, in Walnut Creek, California, at the age of 92. Dr. Cassidy was AAWRE’s only 12th Honorary Diplomate to be inducted in 2005, receiving AAWRE’s highest honor given to an individual for his indelible contributions to the water resources engineering profession. In his remarkable five decade career, Dr. Cassidy was a renowned expert in hydraulic and hydrologic engineering studies for flood- control, hydroelectric projects, thermal power plants, and water-resources development projects.
Highly accomplished in his field, Dr. Cassidy was named a Bechtel Fellow in 1986 and elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1994, one of the highest professional honors an engineer can receive. He was elected an Honorary Member of ASCE in 1994 and 1996 he received the Ray K. Linsley Award from the American Institute of Hydrology. Jack was inducted into the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy at the University of Iowa in 2002, received the EWRI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, and was recognized by Montana State University in 2011 with the Alumni Achievement Award. He was the recipient of the ASCE Hunter Rouse Lecture Award and he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. Society on Dams in 2013. Jack was an active member of the International Commission on Large Dams serving as Chairman of the Hydraulics for Dams Committee and served two terms on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Society on Dams. He was active in ASCE, spending 16 years on various Hydraulics Division committees. He authored and co-authored three textbooks and more than 40 technical papers.
Jack was born in Gebo, Wyoming in June 1930 to Elizabeth and Valentine Cassidy. His father was an electrical engineer employed as chief electrician at the Owl Creek Coal Company. After his father’s tragic death in a plane crash in 1935, Jack and his mother moved to Roberts, Montana. Jack graduated in a class of five in Roberts in 1947. He spent most of his developing years working on ranches belonging to his grandfather and others; he used the money he earned to support both himself and his mother during the Great Depression.
Jack enrolled in Civil Engineering at Montana State College (MSC) in the fall of 1948 and received his BSCE in 1952. He met Alice at MSC, they were married in 1953. He was drafted into the Army in 1953 and served in the Korean War. When he returned from the war, he went to work for the Montana State Water Conservation Board designing dams, pump plants and canals. Jack enrolled in Montana State University in 1958 and began working on his Masters in Fluid Mechanics and received his MSCE in 1960. He spent a summer at Colorado State University as a fellow in Fluid Mechanics. Later that summer, he enrolled in the graduate program at the University of Iowa. At Iowa he was an instructor in Mechanics and Hydraulics as well as a research assistant at Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research. After completing his PhD in Hydraulic Engineering in 1963 he took a position at the University of Missouri as an Assistant Professor, he was promoted to Professor in 1969 and Department Chairman in 1971.
Jack left the University of Missouri in 1974 and joined the Bechtel Corporation in San Francisco as Assistant Chief Hydraulic Engineer. He was promoted to Chief Hydrologic Engineer in 1975, Chief Hydraulic Engineer in 1979, he took a brief break from Bechtel from 1979-1981 to head up the Albrook Hydraulics and Water Resources Laboratory at Washington State University in Pullman, returned to Bechtel and was promoted to Manager of Hydraulics and Hydrology in 1985, and Manager of Geotechnical and Hydraulic Engineering in 1993. During this time, he participated in the development of hydraulic and hydrologic design for dams and water supply projects worldwide, supervising up to 100 engineers in five offices. After retiring in 1995 Jack started a career as an independent consultant helping solve problems on dams and water projects all over the world.
Dr. Cassidy led a full and wonderful life, enjoyed the outdoors, camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting. He also enjoyed bicycling, snow skiing and water skiing. He was a loving father and grandfather, serving as scout master and baseball coach. He enjoyed dancing, socializing and swapping stories with new people. He was a carpenter who created fine pieces of furniture and was always willing to step-in and help with a home repair or improvement projects. Following his retirement, he volunteered with the Red Cross assisting people impacted by natural disasters and other crises. He loved his family very much and enjoyed watching his grandkids and great-grandkids playing sports and enjoying life.
Jack joined his wife Alice of 53 years, who passed away in 2005. Jack will be lovingly remembered by his children Val (Becky), Jon (Sue) and Debra (James); grandchildren Benjamin, Becky, Nici and Sara; great-grandchildren Gia and James.
A memorial service was held for Dr. Cassidy in Rossmoor on September 10, 2022. Please consider making a donation to the “Jack Cassidy Endowment” for underprivileged engineering students at Montana State University.
To contribute, checks may be payable to the MSU Alumni Foundation and place the fund name and number 92845 on your check. Contributions can be mailed to:
MSU Alumni Foundation
PO Box 172750
Bozeman, MT 59717