Celebration for the Life of Joseph Penzien

A Celebration for the Life of Joseph Penzien is being planned for the Saturday, November 12, 2011 in Berkeley, California. This event will honor and celebrate the life and achievements of UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus Joseph Penzien.

Joseph Penzien Memorial Fund:
A fellowship fund has been established in the name of Joseph Penzien to fund and support graduate engineering students enrolled in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Preference will be given to students who have demonstrated financial need and have chosen the field of structural engineering and structural mechanics. The goal is to raise $500,000 to qualify for a named graduate fellowship.

To make a contribution, please send cash/checks to Enid C. Pollack, Sr. Development Director at UC Berkeley College of Engineering, 210 McLaughlin Hall, College of Engineering, Berkeley, CA 94720-1722. Please make checks payable to UC Berkeley College of Engineering and include check memo: Joseph Penzien Memorial Fund. Ms. Pollack can be contacted at 510-642-2257 or by email at epollack@berkeley.edu.

Download the announcement card for the Joseph Penzien Memorial Fund.

Joseph Penzien, a world renowned pioneer and leader in the field of earthquake engineering, passed away on September 19, 2011 at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Redwood City, California. Highlights of Joe’s distinguished career are recounted in the 2004 EERI Connections Oral History of Joseph Penzien (3.2 MB PDF File).

See the notes or comments about Joesph Penzien written by his friends, family and colleagues below:

Posted on September 20th, 2011

26 Responses to Celebration for the Life of Joseph Penzien

  1. wassim says:

    He will be missed.

  2. Shih-Chi Liu says:

    Joe has lived a full life, personally and professionally. He helped expand the field of earthquake engineering, domestically and internationally. My daughter Libby Liu and I will come to attend Celebration of Glorious Life of Joe Penzien on November 12.

  3. Fuh-Gwo Yuan says:

    It was with a great sense of loss when I heard of the news. Although I knew Joe for about ten years, Joe has been generously helping me in all aspects including intellectual growth. Joe’s mathematical rigor and physical intuition made him a true world leader in structural dynamics. I have enjoyed traveling with Joe to China and Japan many times with his sense of humor. Joe was more than just a wonderful person; he was always so kind and considerate to us that we always welcomed seeing him at every opportunity.
    His passing will not only leave a void in our lives, but in the hearts of all those who knew him. Joe will always remain within my heart.

  4. Ken P. Chong says:

    Joe is such a giant in his field, a true scholar and a gentleman. I met him a few times and I used his enlightening red book for many years when I was teaching strucutral dynamics.

    Ken Chong

  5. Nick Marcus says:

    Bob Joe passed on Ruths Birthday may they all rest in peace


  6. Frank Cheng says:

    Joe’s pass-away was the deepest heart-wrenching sorrow which radiated in every direction–the loss of a father figure, a world renowned scholar, as well as a generous academic inspirer. Joe’s pioneered contribution high-lighted the most significant period shaped the earthquake structural engineering. His academic and personal influence touched a generation of structural engineers in the US and abroad. And for me personally. that covered a period of last 30 precious years!

  7. Alfredo Ang says:

    Joe is indeed a giant in the field of earthquake and structural engineering. He will be remembered for his njumerous contributions to research in earthquake engineering and to professional practice. He will be missed.

  8. David MacLam says:

    So many of us owe Dr. JP more than we could ever repay. His ground breaking work still stands as a remarkable achievment. He was loved by his family and friends. There are some things that cannot be replaced.

  9. Kazuhiko Kawashima says:

    Dear Joe, unless I met you first in 1975, most likely I did not become a researcher. You inspired me to have an interest to research. You were an instructive and great supervisor. You were an open and warm mind person. Good memory of you continues in my heart. May you rest in peace.

  10. Mehmet Celebi says:

    Professor Penzien touched and elated the lives of many (including myself) and countless students and colleagues. first met him in Gediz (Turkey) in 1970 while he was delegated by EERI along with Robert Hanson to conduct reconnaissance of a small earthquake that affected the town of Gediz and vicinity. I learned many things from Joe. I am grateful that I knew him and had the opportunities to learn from him.

  11. Ahsan Kareem says:

    I met Joe in 1972 at UC Berkeley as the shaking table was just installed. He ran the table for several levels of motion
    for me as i was interested in human perception of motion in buildings for my masters thesis. Our paths crossed many times after that as i served with him on NRC’s Committee on Natural Disasters. My first visit to UC Berkeley’s faculty club, where his life will be celebrated, was with Joe as the NRC Committee once met at the campus. He was an outstanding engineer and great company, he will be missed

  12. Helmut Krawinkler says:

    We lost one of the truly great ones. What a personality! Technically brilliant, and personally charming, warm, considerate, supportive, entertaining, and lots of fun to be with. Joe, I know you are listening (or reading) – we will miss you a lot, and many thanks for being my friend. It was my pleasure and honor to have known you for 45 years and to count you among my friends.


  13. Roger Borcherdt says:

    Professor Joseph Penzien was a true giant to those of us that got to enjoy his wonderful personality, learn from his great wisdom, be guided by his keen insight, and appreciate his monumental contributions to earthquake engineering as both an outstanding professor and practitioner. His charming ways and leadership both in many advisory panels and as a person will be missed, but his legacy as a person and his pioneering contributions to earthquake engineering will stand as a monument for future generations concerned with earthquake resistant design. It has been my pleasure and honor to have been able to experience Joe’s friendship and guidance since my time as a graduate student and his as the Director of EERC , a center of excellence in engineering research.

  14. Bilgin Atalay says:

    My dear Professor Penzien: I am forever proud to have been your student. May you rest in peace and be assured that your place in our hearts and minds are nearly impossible to fill in your absence.

  15. Bob Penzien says:

    Dad … you gave it your all and you did it your way. We love you and we miss you!.

  16. Hsi Theresa Liu says:

    Dear Professor Penzien,
    I have heard so many of the good things about you from David until the day we finally met at David’s Memorial Mass in the City of Folsom, California in July 2001. You kindly stood on the podium and did give us another precious lesson, not on earthquake engineering or structure dynamics this time, but on your wonderful relationship with one of your hardworking U.C. Berkeley doctoral students, Dr. Wen David Liu, my dearest brother. Later on, my family in Taiwan also received your generous Christmas card and a photo of you, David and Dr. Roy Imbsen enjoying a cocktail party at Berkeley. Professor Penzien, my parents and I sincerely appreciate your inspiration to David, we will pray for your great soul to rest in peace, and if you indeed see David somewhere, will you two continue your in-depth discussion on the subject of bridge engineering?
    Yours truly,
    Hsi Theresa Liu 19 October 2011 in Taipei

  17. Prof. P.K.Mehta says:

    Joe and I were colleagues in the Structural Engineering,,Mechanics and Materials Division of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at U.C. Berkeley for over 30 years. He was a wonderful man and well regarded for his research and teaching worldwide. I admired his sense of humor and enthusiasm for life.
    My wife and I would like to attend the celebration in his honor .

  18. su says:

    My husband is one of Professor Penzien’s Ph.D. students. I knew him at Berkeley campus in the 80’s. I remember clearly that one day on campus, he met our one-year-old daughter for the first time, he lowered himself and shook hands with her, introducing himeself to her in such a friendly and yet formal way. I was so impressed!
    Two years ago, Professor Penzien came to Taiwan. We went up to a hill to appreciate the seasonal flowers. He was still very healthy and energetic. He said it might be his last trip to Taiwan; he would like to take the chance to say farewell to all his friends…..
    May you rest in peace, Professor Penzien. You will be remembered and missed by all of us. Su

  19. Hong Hao says:

    Dear Prof. Penzien,

    When taking the walk together with you in Beijing during WCEE in 2008, I told you that you appeared to be even stronger and more energetic than you were in 1980’s. You happilly agreed with me. I never expected that it was the last time I met you.

    I learned a lot from you, not just as a supervisor, but more importantly, as a person. I still remember vividly the day I went to your office asking if you want to take me as your PhD student, and how you taught me to always go to the fundamentals if there is anything I am not sure, and many, many other gems of wisdom you passed on to me. You once mentioned to me that you’d never forget your last student. Your last student will also forever remember you.

    I have been and will always be proud to be your last student. It is a great honour.

    May you rest in peace!


  20. Afshin Kalantari says:

    Dear Professor Penzien, I met you only afew times. But I have learnt alot from your lectures and works.
    We all owe you. Thank you for all have tought us. May you rest in peace.

  21. Roland Sharpe says:

    I have known Joe since the early 50s. We worked together on professional committees and he was a consultant on several projects I managed. I always enjoyed his innovative suggestions, his humor and I learned a lot from him.

    I am sorry I did not know he was in a Redwood City hospital – I could have visited with him.

    Thanks again, Joe. God Bless You.

    Your Friend.

    Roland Sharpe

  22. Maury Power says:

    It has been my great privilege and pleasure to have been able to associate with Professor Joe Penzien in consulting assignments and advisory roles. I admire Professor Penzien enormously not only for his contributions to the deveopment of earthquake engineering but also for his leadership and insights in applying new methods for the design of important and critical facilities. Joe, thank you for your enormous contributions and for your inspiration, guidance, and friendship.

  23. Julio Garcia says:

    Joe, even though you cannot be defined in few words, I have to say that before meeting you, I was learning from your book. Decades later, I had the pleasure to meet you and the high honor to work with you. I got to know you as an extraordinary Engineer, a sincere friend and a wonderful person. Joe, we are missing you.

  24. John Patrick Penzien, Nephew says:

    The Penzien family has always been very proud of Uncle Joe. He was a shining example of the benefits that education can provide. As a nephew and fellow civil engineer I will certainly miss our visits.

    Uncle Joe was always a loving, caring member of the Penzien family.

  25. Anwar Mirza says:

    We will miss you!

  26. Karen Scordelis Holtermann says:

    Joe Penzien was a much loved friend of the Scordelis family for well more than half a century. My late father, Alex, thought the world of him, as does my mother, Georgia. He spoke at my Dad’s memorial service in 2007, and his thoughts that day touched us deeply. I am sad that we couldn’t be at Joe’s memorial on Saturday, but our thoughts and hearts are with him and his family.