ASCE Remembers Three Illustrious Members of the Civil Engineering Profession

September 1, 2013


Lt. Gen. JOHN “JACK” W. MORRIS II, P.E., F.ASCE, a West Point graduate and commander of the 18th Engineering Brigade during the Vietnam War who went on to become the 44th Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), passed away on August 20 at the age of 91. Born September 10, 1921, in Princess Anne, Maryland, Morris graduated from Charlotte Hall Military Academy and then attended Western Maryland College. In July 1940 he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a member of the Class of 1944. However, due to World War II he graduated a year early as a second lieutenant in the USACE and subsequently was assigned to Guam, in the Pacific theatre, where he supervised the construction of airfields for B-29 Boeing Superfortress bombers which were raiding Japan. After the war, Morris completed many important assignments for the USACE, including taking command of the Corps’ Tulsa District and the Missouri River Division (now part of Northwestern Division), and also served as director of Civil Works and deputy chief of Engineers. From July 1976 to September 1980, Morris reached the pinnacle of his career when he served as the Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the USACE. According to Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick, the present Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the USACE, “One of LTG Morris’ greatest accomplishments during his tenure was convincing the Department of the Army to include the USACE among its major commands. This increased the Corps’ stature in the Department of Defense and helped pave the way for our leadership role in military and national affairs.” Morris retired in 1980 after more than 37 years of service and moved to Arlington, Virginia, where he started his own consulting firm, J.W. Morris, Ltd., which provided consulting services to some 50 firms. In addition, he wrote a course of instruction for a master’s degree in Construction Engineering Management at the University of Maryland. In 1977, Engineering News-Record named Morris the Construction Man of the Year and in that same year he was also awarded the Outstanding Engineer of the Year by both the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society. Recognitions continued to come his way but none more cherished than his selection as a Distinguished Graduate from the U.S. Military Academy in 1989.


THOMAS D.Y. FOK, Ph.D., P.E., L.S., F.ASCE, chairman and owner of Youngstown, Ohio-headquartered Thomas Fok & Associates Ltd., passed away on August 24 at the age of 92. Born July 1, 1921, in Canton, China, Fok received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the National Tung-Chi University of China in 1945 and his master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois in 1948. Following his graduation, Fok earned a master’s degree in business administration in corporate finance and statistics from New York University in 1950 and his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1956. After holding engineering positions with several consulting firms in New York and Pennsylvania, Fok accepted the position of associate professor of civil engineering at Youngstown State University, where he taught until 1967. During his tenure he was appointed director of the Computing Center, and in 1966 received the Walter E. and Caroline H. Watson Foundation Distinguished Professor’s Award. In 1967 Fok went into private business, becoming a partner in Moser-Fok Consulting Engineers. In 1976, Fok formed his own engineering consulting business, Thomas Fok & Associates Ltd, serving Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, and Portage counties in Ohio; here he established a reputation for excellence in engineering. In addition to being a registered engineer in 9 states, Fok was also a registered surveyor. During his distinguished career, he authored and co-authored many technical publications for ASCE and the American Concrete Institute, including Effects of Longitudinal Forces on Portal Frame Supporting a Highway Bridge Deck in 1959.


JOHN A. VITALE, P.E., F.ASCE, who was named Engineer of the Year by the North Jersey Branch of ASCE in 1994, passed away on August 12 at the age of 75. Born January 2, 1938, in Newark, New Jersey, Vitale grew up in nearby Caldwell and graduated from Caldwell High School, where he played basketball and baseball. In 1962, he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Upon graduation he went to work for Edwards and Kelsey Inc., a private construction and engineering firm headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey. Moving into government practice, Vitale was the city engineer for the town of Montville, New Jersey, and later for Essex County, New Jersey. For his work, Vitale was named Government Engineer of the Year by the North Jersey Branch of ASCE in 1995. Prior to retirement, he worked for South Hackensack, New Jersey-headquartered Boswell Engineering. Having spent his entire life in northern New Jersey, upon retirement Vitale moved to Mesa, Arizona, with his wife Corinne.
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