Charles Derleth, Jr.


Charles Derleth, Jr.

Civil Engineer – Structural Designer – Bridge Builder – Constructor

Bridges – Tunnels – Buildings – Docks – Water Works – Dams

Ninth National Honor Member Nominated by the University of California Chapter

Typifying scholarship, character, practicality, and sociability, his monument will ever be the construction of the Golden Gate and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges, for which he served as consulting engineer. But Charles Derleth, Jr., was chief engineer also on the Carquinez Strait Highway Bridge, and consulting engineer on the Oakland Estuary Tunnel, the Broadway tunnels in Oakland, and numerous other structures-buildings, docks, water works, dams, bridges, highways, etc.-in New York State and on the Pacific Coast of the United States.

Born in New York City, October 2, 1874, he graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1894. He obtained his degree of civil engineer at Columbia University two years later, and taught civil engineering as instructor and lecturer at Columbia between 1896 and 1901. He was professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado for the two years 1901 and 1903. During his connection with Columbia, he also acted in the capacity of consulting engineer. His largest project of that period, and the one of which he was the proudest, was the City Island Bridge, for which he made the design calculations and drew up the plans.

In 1903, he went to the University of California as an associate professor of structural engineering. Then, in 1907, he was appointed to serve simultaneously as professor of civil engineering and Dean of the College of Civil Engineering, and in their many subdivisions such as sanitary engineering, transportation, irrigation engineering, etc. In 1930, he earned his LL.D. degree at the university and thereafter served solely as dean. In 1942, he retired from his post at the university, and on his 70th birthday, October 2, 1944, he was honored with the title of Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus. He died June 13, 1956.

Dean Derleth had an active career in the practice of engineering beginning in 1896. For more than twenty years, he was consulting engineer for the University of California buildings at Berkeley, including such structures as California Hall, Agriculture and Hillgard Halls, Wheeler Hall, Doe Library, Gilman Hall, LeConte Hall, Stephens Union, and the Sather Tower.

He was consulting engineer from 1911 to 1916 in responsible charge of engineering work for the Bureau of Architecture of the City of San Francisco. Under his supervision many of the largest schools were built; also hospitals, almshouses, fire houses, emergency hospitals, etc. He was consulting engineer for the Civic Center and the designer of the San Francisco Auditorium. In 1937, he was chief consulting engineer for a vehicular tunnel through the mountains back of the East Bay cities in Alameda County.

He was an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education (later, the American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE), the International Society for Testing Materials, and the Seismological Society of America. His wide scope of interests extended well into the humanities, and he acquired many honors in his active career. He was honored by election to Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Iota Phi, Phi Phi, Golden Bear (University of California), and the Big C (University of California). He contributed sixty or more articles to the technical press, including such subjects as “The Engineer-Unemployment and leisure Time” and “Why the Engineering Profession Attracts Young Men.”

He was elected ninth National Honor Member of Chi Epsilon Fraternity by the Supreme Council, meeting in Conclave at Purdue University, December 18, 1936. An outgoing spirit of comradeship typifies Charles Derleth, Jr., making him among the most approachable of the great engineers in this era.

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