The University Record, September 26, 1994


Frank E. Richart Jr.

Frank E. “Bill” Richart Jr., the Walter Johnson Emmons Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, died Sept. 16 at his home. He was 75 years old.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Richart joined the U-M as professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering in 1962. He served as department chair until 1969. In 1977, he was named the Walter Johnson Emmons Professor of Civil Engineering, and retired in 1986.

“Under Bill’s leadership, the civil engineering department gained national stature and recognition,” said E. Benjamin Wylie, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering. “He was an outstanding technical leader and researcher and a recognized authority in his field of geotechnical engineering—specifically soil dynamics and vibration.”

Before joining the U-M faculty, Richart was an associate professor and professor of civil engineering at the University of Florida for 10 years. Prior to that, he was an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Harvard University and a research associate at the University of Illinois. In addition to his academic career, he served as a consultant to many governmental and private agencies.

Richart received his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1940, his M.S. degree in civil engineering in 1946 and his Ph.D. degree in engineering applied mechanics and structures in 1948—all from the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Richart’s more than 70 technical publications and his textbook, Vibrations of Soils and Foundations, formed the basis of the soil dynamics specialty in civil engineering.

Richart was the recipient of many awards from the American Society of Civil Engineering, including the Terzaghi Award—the highest award given in his field of specialty. In 1969, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering—the highest professional distinction that can be conferred upon an engineer.

Richart also received an honorary degree from the University of Florida, and a College of Engineering Alumni Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Engineering from the University of Illinois.

He is survived by his wife, Betty, of Ann Arbor; son John and Nan (Jackson) of Montclair, N.J.; daughter Betsy and David Alan French of Ann Arbor; son Willard Clark and Linda (Knieja) of Ann Arbor; and six grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the attention of Prof. E.B. Wylie, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Room 2340, G.G. Brown Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, the Humancare Endowment Fund of the Washtenaw United Way, or the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.