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Edward Wenk Jr.

Edward Wenk Jr. Obituary
Edward WENK, Jr.

Ed was born on January 24, 1920 to Edward Wenk and Lillie (Heller) Wenk in Baltimore, MD. He died peacefully at home of natural causes at Horizon House on June 27, 2012. His family and friends were grateful to be able to spend time with him to the very end.

He graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute public high school, class of 1937, Johns Hopkins University, B.E., 1940; D. Eng., 1950; and Harvard University, M. Sci., 1947.

He married Carolyn Lyford, whom he met at Harvard, December 27, 1941. They were married for 63 years until her death October 13, 2004. They were the proud parents of three sons, Lawrence Shelley, Terry Allan (deceased 1999) and Robin Edward Alexander.

Ed had a multifaceted career as a civil engineer, educator, author, and policy and risk analyst. He began his professional career as an engineering specialist in submarine hull strength design with the U.S. Navy in 1941. He was responsible for being the director of, and on aboard for, the first deep sea dive of each new class of submarines that he designed. He resigned his post with the Navy not long after the launching of the NAUTILUS, the Navy's first nuclear powered submarine.

His next career move was to Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX, to chair their Engineering Mechanics Dept., 1956-1959. While there, he designed a small research submarine, the ALUMINAUT, for Reynolds Metals Co. At the time it was the world's deepest diving true submarine. Although its commercial value was never realized it proved its mettle as a rescue craft for a U. S. Navy research submarine on two occasions.

When a new opportunity beckoned from Washington, D. C., in 1959, Ed accepted a position as Senior Specialist for Science and Technology in the Library of Congress Legislative Reference Service. His primary responsibility was to serve as the first science advisor to the Congress. This was in an era when America's superiority in science and technology was challenged by the Soviet Union's launching of the earth's first artificial satellite, SPUTNIK, and the Congress needed help in researching the possibilities for responding to the implied threat posed by this event.

He subsequently played a variety of policy advisory roles on the White House staff in the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. One role that he particularly enjoyed was that of Executive Secretary of the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development. The Council was charged with representing marine interests throughout the government at the Cabinet level and was chaired by the Vice President. Working with its first chair, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, whom Ed greatly admired made it an especially fulfilling assignment.

In 1970, he was appointed at the rank of professor at the University of Washington in Civil Engineering and Public Affairs. His goal was to establish a new program which he hoped would make engineers more aware of the social impacts of their engineering projects. He was the founding director of the new program, the Graduate Program in the Social Management of Technology, and taught courses in it until he retired in 1990 at which time he was granted emeritus status.

In addition to numerous technical papers he was author of five books beginning with Politics of the Ocean, published in 1972, followed by Margins for Survival, 1979, Tradeoffs, 1986, Making Waves, 1995, and Double Helix, 1999.

During his lifetime he received a number of honors and awards. Among them was being elected to Sigma Xi, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Public Administration. He was awarded the Ralph Coats Roe Medal by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was named distinguished alumnus by Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and Johns Hopkins University.

He was appointed to the Alaska Commission to investigate the wreck of the Exxon Valdez, 1989, and was a member of the task force to investigate life and property losses caused by Hurricane Katrina, 2005.

Ed's interests included his family, politics, boating, the Internet, writing, travel and music. He continued speaking on contemporary issues and facilitating conversations on political affairs and other general issues until recently.

Soon after their arrival in Seattle, Ed and Carolyn became members of the University Congregational United Church of Christ. They joined when Reverend Dale Turner was the senior minister and were members for 33 years. After Carolyn's death, Ed renewed the Reform Jewish faith of his youth and became a member of Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Elizabeth (Wenk) Cline, 1997, his son, Terry Allan Wenk, 1999, and his wife, Carolyn (Lyford) Wenk, 2004.

His is survived by: his wife, Betty L. Wagner; his sons and their spouses Larry S. Wenk (Pamela), Robin E. A. Wenk (Lois); grandchildren and their spouses. Shelly (Wenk) Sylvain (John), Aliza M. Wenk, Robin E. A. Wenk, Jr. (Marissa), Nandrin L. Wenk; great grandchildren, Reyssa, Shaun, and Clark Wenk, and Robert Yogi Sylvain; nieces and spouses, Karen (Saunders) Cotter (Richard), Alice (Cline) Parker Bebel (Don); great nephew, Joe Bebel; and former daughter-in-law, Hope Wenk.

A celebration of life service and a reception will be held on August 14, 2012, at 2:00 P.M., University Congregational Church of Christ, 4515 16th Ave NE in the University District.

In lieu of flowers remembrances may be made to: the Edward Wenk, Jr. Endowed Lectureship in Technology and Public Policy, University of Washington; the H. Blumenthal Memorial Youth Scholarship at Temple De Hirsch Sinai; Horizon House Quality of Resident Life Endowment Fund or .
Published in The Seattle Times on July 22, 2012
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