Click here to login if you're an NAE Member
Recover Your Account Information
BY WILLIAM W. MOORE
EUGENE B. WAGGONER, an internationally recognized engineering geologist and former chief executive officer of Woodward-Clyde Consultants, died in Napa, California, on November 30, 1991.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1913, ...
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1913, Gene Waggoner received his B.A. and M.A. in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1937 and 1939, respectively. He began his professional career as a petroleum geologist during the heightened need for oil in World War II. After the war he worked for nearly a decade in government service for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, where he was a staff geologist in the Office of Chief Engineer and Assistant Commissioners, with technical control of engineering geology in western Reclamation Regions II and III. His responsibilities in this work included coordination of geologic work on the boundary between the United States and Mexico and of the Snowy Mountain Diversion Project for the government of Australia. He supervised all phases of engineering geology in this work, from site selection and investigation through design, specification, and construction of all types of irrigation and hydroelectric projects.
In 1954 he founded in Denver a private consulting practice to provide services to major engineering firms, contractors, other private firms, and foreign governments. His work included field reconnaissance and appraisal of groundwater potential, recom mendations on methods of development, design of wells, preparation of specifications, supervision of construction, and completion and testing of wells.
In June 1960 he merged his firm with Woodward-Clyde and Associates, and he became executive vice-president and comanager, providing engineering and geologic consultation on major engineering projects throughout the United States and foreign countries. Seven years later Waggoner was appointed president and chief executive officer of Woodward-Clyde. In 1973 Waggoner retired to a private consulting practice in engineering geology.
During his career Waggoner served as a consulting engineering geologist for major hydroelectric, irrigation, and tunneling projects throughout the world, working in some fifty countries, and his credentials and accomplishments in his field are second to none in both quality and quantity. The important theme that served as the foundation of all of his work is the amalgamation of theory and practice toward the successful completion of major works for society. His advice was actively sought by owners, designers, and contractors. What established his reputation was his outstanding ability to understand a regional geology, interpret the exploratory work in that context, arrive at remarkable definitive conclusions, and then to explain them. His work ultimately brought meaning and demonstrated the value of practical, understandable consulting geologic service to groundwater development and control in the United States and foreign countries.
Because he was an advocate of a multidisciplinary approach to distribution, conservation, power generation, and pollution control of water, he was called upon to lead assignments on projects such as the West Pakistan Salinity Control and Reclamation Project, the Bhumipol Dam and Power plant in Thailand, and similar major projects worldwide. He was also highly regarded for his expert testimony and skill in translating complex geologic conditions into everyday language.
Perhaps Mr. Waggoner's greatest contributions came as a result of his service to the engineering profession, applying his technical knowledge and management skills for the benefit of professional practice. He contributed his time generously to a number of organizations, including the American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC), where he served as national president in 1966-1967. At ACEC he contributed important improvements to engineering practice such as developing peer review programs for engineering practice that came to be widely used by ACEC. He actively supported the national Association of Soil and Foundation Engineers (ASFE), in particular in his support of the ASFE Peer Review Program. He was requested to peer review more than a dozen ASFE and ACEC firms, another measure of the respect with which he was held within the profession. He also gave unstintingly of his time to various other professional organizations, including the Association of American Geologists, International Society of Rock Mechanics, International Commission on Large Dams, and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Mr. Waggoner contributed substantially to the work of the National Research Council (NRC), primarily through the U.S. National Committee on Tunneling Technology. He participated in the writing of several NRC documents, including Better Management of Major Underground Construction Projects and Better Contracting Practices. One of Waggoner's major contributions to the NRC was his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Site Investigation for underground structures of the U.S. National Committee on Tunneling Technology. As chairman he led the efforts of fifteen of the country's top professionals in the tunneling industry toward the publication in 1984 of the two-volume report Geotechnical Site Investigations for Underground Projects.
An honorary member of the Association of Engineering Geologists, Waggoner was also a member of Sigma Xi, honorary science fraternity; and Phi Delta Kappa, honorary education fraternity.
Mr. Waggoner was an elected member of the Board of Education in Lakewood, Colorado; a member of the Intercountry Regional Planning Commission in Colorado, and served as a president of his Kiwanis Club. He also was a member of the Vallejo Gem and Mineral Society, Vallejo Yacht Club, Vallejo Symphony, Vallejo Concert Association and Historical Museum, and the Navy League. He was a 32nd degree Mason.
Mr. Waggoner is survived by his wife of fifty-three years, Wini, of Vallejo, California; two daughters, Diana Davies of Dixon, California, and Teri Nebeker of Sacramento, California; a son, Alan, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and six grandchildren.