Dr. Albert Henry Halff passed on March 25, 2013, at his home on Kaua'i, in Hawaii. He was 97 years young. He was born in Midland, Texas on August 20, 1915, to Henry Mayer Halff, a prominent West Texas rancher, and Rosa Wechsler Halff. He was the youngest of four children. His siblings were Hal, Ernestine, and Betty. He attended the San Marcos Academy and the New Mexico Military Institute as a young man. He moved to Mineral Wells and then Dallas with his parents, and attended the School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University. After his graduation in 1937, he earned a Master's Degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1940. There he met and married, after a six-week courtship, Lee Catherine Benson. The couple moved to Kingsville, Texas, where Albert taught at Texas A&I College. He served with distinction as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, primarily in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he was in charge of a malaria control project. His first son, Henry, was born in 1942. After the war, Albert taught at S.M.U., and then attended The Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. His son Bro was born in 1946. In 1950, Albert founded a consulting engineering firm, with partner Allen Hundley. Soon thereafter, Albert established on his own Albert H. Halff Associates. He led the firm until his semi-retirement in 1986. He remained active in the firm as chairman emeritus until his death. His fellow engineers and he grew the firm from a one-man company to the largest independent consulting engineering firm in Texas. Halff Associates, under Albert's leadership, became a pioneer in environmental engineering, flood plain management and wastewater disposal. Albert was active in the American Society of Civil Engineers and Toastmasters. He was a great philanthropist, donating generously to universities, other schools, and many charitable organizations. He was an active member of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, and, in his later years, the Community Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio.
After his retirement, Albert moved to San Diego with his wife Lee. Before her passing, they shared sixty-four years, in an inspiring bond of love and friendship. After Lee's demise in 2004, Albert made his home in San Antonio and on Kaua'i, spending time with his two sons and their families there. He travelled extensively, including trips to South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and around the world. As recently as the summer of 2012, he travelled in Europe. Albert became an accomplished artist in his later years, creating watercolors with brilliant colors and bold designs. He also swam competitively, and won three events in a swim meet in Hawaii on the weekend before he passed.
Albert was a visionary, with a deep commitment to innovation in engineering and creative thought in all fields. He had an abiding faith in, and love of, people. He expressed that love in his work, his friendships with others, and his boundless commitment to help others in any way that he could. Albert had a wonderful sense of humor, and took great joy in learning about the lives of all whom he met. Albert leaves behind a legacy of love, service, and faith in the basic goodness of humankind.
Albert is survived by his two sons, Henry and Bro; his daughter-in-law, Jean; and a grandson, Larry. Services will be at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas on 4015 Normandy Ave Dallas, TX 75205 at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, April 2, and subsequently on Kaua'i. Memorials may be sent to the S.M.U School of Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University's Wilmer Eye Institute, or any charity that is dear to those who knew Albert.
Published in Express-News on Mar. 29, 2013