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James Monroe Gere

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James Monroe Gere Professor emeritus of Civil Engineering at Stanford University, died in Portola Valley on January 30, 2008. He and his wife Janice had made their home on campus for 39 years before moving to the Sequoias retirement community in 2001. James was born in Syracuse, NY on June 14, 1925. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at age 17 in 1942, serving in England, France and Germany. In June 1946 he married high school sweetheart Janice Platt, returning to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the G.I. Bill while Janice worked at the Emma Willard School in Troy. On completing his Master's degree, James was awarded one of the first NSF Fellowships, and chose to study at Stanford. He earned his Ph.D. in 1954 and was offered a faculty position in Civil Engineering. Originally co-author of S.P. Timoshenko's internationally recognized text on Mechanics of Materials, he became sole author of this and eight other well-known books. He served as department chair and associate Dean of Engineering, and co-founded the Blume Earthquake Engineering Center. He was invited with colleague Haresh Shah as the first foreigners to study the earthquake-devastated city of Tangshan, China in 1980. Respected and admired by students, faculty and staff at the university, Professor Gere always felt that the opportunity to work with and be of service to young people was one of his great joys. James' interests spanned many areas, including a lifelong love of the outdoors. He was a NY state champion archer, with his father and brothers, and become an Eagle Scout at 16. His numerous trips to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks included over 20 ascents of Half Dome as well as "John Muir hikes" of up to 50 miles in a day. He shared his knowledge of the Sierras with countless family members, student groups, and friends over the years. In 1986 he hiked to the base camp of Mount Everest, saving the life of a companion on the trip. James was an active runner until a few years ago. He completed the Boston Marathon at 48, in a time of 3:13. As a young faculty member, he formed a running group jokingly called the "Angell Field Ancients" by the student athletes. James Gere will be remembered by all who knew him as a positive and loving man whose upbeat good humor made aspects of work or life easier to bear. His last project (in progress) was a book from the written memoirs of his great-grandfather, a Colonel (122d N.Y.) in the Civil War. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Janice; daughter Susan, sons William and David, grandchildren Clifford and Rachelle Gere of Hollister and Dewitt Durham of Palo Alto, and brothers Frederick of Roseville, CA and William of Cheshire, CT. The family extends wholehearted thanks to Dr. Paula Kushlan and the staff at PAMF for their compassionate care of 20 years. Janice and Jim become members of the First Congregational Church of Palo Alto in 1952, where he served as deacon in the 1960's. Services commemorating his life will be held there, at 1985 Louis Road, on Saturday February 23 at 2 p.m. Contributions, if desired, may be made to the FCC Memorial Fund.
Published in San Jose Mercury News on Feb. 9, 2008
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