• "Long live Don and RQD"
    - A Trivedi
  • "Don Deere taught Soli Mechanics, which I took as a minor,..."
    - J. William Soderman
  • "I learned today (Friday 26 January 2018) the sad news about..."
    - Francisco Silva-Tulla
  • "I will always cherish fond memories of working on projects..."
    - Roy Spitzer
  • "Deepest sympathy from Louie Green and family. My family..."
    - Louis Green

Don U. Deere, a world-renowned engineering geologist, passed away on January 14, 2018, in Gainesville at the age of 95. An expert on tunneling, dam building and design, and the construction of large underground spaces, in 1989 he was appointed by President Reagan as Chairman of the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. He received numerous distinctions throughout his career including being elected to both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.
Don was born on a farm in Mt. Etna, Iowa, to O.U. and Wilma Hannah Deere. A graduate of Corning High School in Iowa, he received his B.S. in Mining Engineering at Iowa State University in 1943, a M.S. in Geology at the University of Colorado in 1949, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois in 1955. He met his wife, the late Carmen Pilar Garcia of San Juan, Puerto Rico, at Iowa State and they spent 61 years together.
After working as a mining engineer in Arizona and New Mexico, Don and Carmen moved to Puerto Rico, where both were on the faculty at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and Don started the Foundation Engineering Company of Puerto Rico. In 1955 he accepted a joint appointment as an associate professor in the departments of Civil Engineering and Geology at Illinois and helped lead their geotechnical engineering program to international prominence. He resigned his appointment as professor in 1972 to pursue full-time consulting and moved to Gainesville where he co-founded Deere and Merritt, an international consulting firm in geology and rock mechanics, and joined UF as an adjunct professor.
Major projects to which he contributed included the construction of the World Trade Center, the Channel Tunnel, the Washington DC subway, and numerous hydroelectric facilities throughout the Americas, most notably Itaipú, the world's largest hydroelectric project at the time. Perhaps his greatest legacy was that of a teacher where at Illinois and UF he mentored a whole generation of leaders in the tunneling industry.
A long-time member of the First Presbyterian Church, for the past 15 years he was a retiree at The Village, golfing, dancing the tango, and always cheering the Gators.
He is survived by his daughter, Carmen Diana of Gainesville, son, Don W. and daughter-in-law, Claudia of Boulder, CO, and grandchildren, Cristina, Don T., and Theodore.
A memorial service will be held on February 10 at the chapel at The Village in Gainesville at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Don U. Deere Graduate Fellowship Fund, University of Illinois Foundation, 1305 W. Green St., MC-386, Urbana, IL 61801, or the First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville.
Arrangements are under the care of Forest Meadows Funeral Home, Gainesville, FL.

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Published in Gainesville Sun from Jan. 21 to Jan. 22, 2018