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Obituary for Professor Sheldon Cherry

Prof. Cherry

We are deeply grieved to inform the international community of earthquake engineers that Professor Sheldon Cherry, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, has passed away on March 23, 2014, a few days short of his 86th birthday. Professor Cherry's service to IAEE was as follows: Director (1973-1980), President (1996-2002), Honorary Member (from 2004).

Shel, the friendly name with which he was known to all those who became acquainted with him, was born in Winnipeg, and received his B.Sc. (C.E.) from the University of Manitoba in 1949. He subsequently received an M.S. from the University of Illinois (1952) and a Ph.D. from the University of Bristol (1955). Shel then spent one year as an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, before joining the Civil Engineering Department at UBC as an Assistant Professor in 1956. He was appointed as Professor in 1969. He remained in the Department until his retirement from teaching in 1993, though he continued to do administrative work for UBC (as well as IAEE) until 2012. During his career at UBC Shel served on many committees, and was Associate Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies for several years. After his retirement from teaching, he continued to serve UBC by chairing the committee charged with reviewing all UBC faculties. This lasted for seven years until his final retirement in 2010.

Shel's great accomplishment was in the development of earthquake engineering in Canada. He originated earthquake engineering at UBC and was the driving force behind the first Canadian shake table for seismic testing. He also was a leader in the development of the codes that govern the seismic design of structures in Canada. He was the Founding Chairman of the Canadian National Committee on Earthquake Engineering, which was a committee of the National Research Council (1964-1975) that formulates the seismic provisions of the NBCC the National Building Code of Canada. The committee has since become a Standing Committee for Earthquake Engineering of the National Building Code of Canada with the same responsibilities. Shel Cherry was also the founding president of the Canadian Association for Earthquake Engineering (CAEE), which was incorporated in 1993 with the objective of promoting earthquake engineering research and practice in Canada.

Shel chaired or was a member of the organizing committee for several Canadian Conferences on Earthquake Engineering, and was instrumental in organizing the first such meeting, held at UBC, in 1965. He represented Canada on several international earthquake organizations, including serving as a Director and then President of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering, and was awarded Honorary Membership in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institue (EERI). He was frequently an invited speaker at meetings, and prepared many invited papers.

Shel was active in the Faculty Club as chair of the art selection committee, a post that gave rise to much good natured ribbing from his close colleagues. He was also Chairman of the Vancouver Art Gallery at the time of their move into their present quarters at the old Court House. A lover of classical music, he was a long time member and supporter of Vancouver's Friends of Chamber Music.

In 2013 Shel was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to education and earthquake engineering in Canada. Also, an endowment at UBC has been established, the Sheldon Cherry Scholarship in Civil Engineering.

Shel is survived by his wife Jane, two daughters and two grandchildren. We express our grief and condolences to the family and to all who knew him. We all will miss his refined sense of humor, kindness and warmth.

The IAEE is indebted to Professor Donald Anderson, UBC, for information in this text.

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International Association for Earthquake Engineering
last updated 04.07.2014