Elected in 1986
“For developing innovative, practical methods of designing piles subject to extreme loads and heavy mat foundations on deep soil formations.”
BY WILLIAM F. MARCUSON III
JOHN ARNOLD FOCHT, JR., of Houston, Texas, the highly esteemed consulting geotechnical engineer and 1990 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) president died October 22, 2010. He was 87.
John was born in Rockwall, Texas, on August 31, 1923, to John A. Focht, Sr., and Fay Goss Focht. He moved to Austin in 1926 when his father joined the civil engineering faculty at the University of Texas. He attended public schools, graduating from Austin High in 1940. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout while in high school. John attended the University of Texas, where he received his B.S. in civil engineering degree in 1944. John was then called to military service and served his country in the U.S. Army during the occupation in France and Germany.
After the war, John attended Harvard University under the G.I. Bill, earning a master of science in civil engineering degree in 1948. While at Harvard he studied under Karl Terzaghi, Arthur Casagrande, and other early pioneers of the emerging field of soil mechanics. John and Dr. Casagrande became lifelong friends, and it was at Casagrande’s urging that John began working at the U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station (WES) in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1948.