Posted: Mon 8:33 AM, Mar 04, 2013
March 7, 1916 - February 10, 2013
Dr. Robert M. "Bob" Holcomb, 96, passed away February 10, 2013, in his sleep just one month short of his 97th birthday.
Bob was born in Sapulpa, Okla., March 7, 1916 to Robert and Flo Holcomb. His father was a building contractor, so Bob lived in several places across the southwestern U.S. growing up. A Boy Scout and a Sea Scout he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout before graduating in 1931 from Tuscon Senior High. He continued his education at the University of Arizona, graduating "With Highest Honors" with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1936. While he was in school, he spent a year working for the Bureau of Reclamation on the Boulder (Hoover) Dam; then, after graduating, he worked for the Arizona Highway Department for a couple of years before teaching in the CE Dept at UA in 1938. From UA, he went to graduate school at Iowa State University, where he earned his Master of Science in Civil Engineering in 1941. He then went to the Radiation Laboratory at the University of California at Berkely where he worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. The rest of his career was with The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, which is now Texas A&M University. He started teaching Structural Engineering, including Strength of Materials, Structural Analysis, Structural Steel Design and Reinforced Concrete Design, in the Civil Engineering Department at Texas A&M in the fall of 1947 and retired 32 years later in the spring of 1979.
While at A&M, he not only taught and wrote many scholarly papers, he also developed curriculum for graduate courses in structural engineering, advised many Masters and Doctoral students, served on the Committee on Graduate Instruction for the School of Engineering and developed a plan to expand the graduate program. He also chaired the scholarship committee of the Civil Engineering Department, served on other committees and was the faculty advisor to the student chapter of the ASCE. In addition to his university duties, he also went back to Iowa State and earned his PhD in 1952 and from 1961 thru 1963 he served as the Dean of the SEATO Graduate School of Engineering (now the Asian Institute of Technology,) in Bangkok, Thailand. Bob's teaching was rewarded when he received the Excellency in Engineering Teaching Award from the Convair Corporation in 1959, the Outstanding Professor by the civil engineering student body in 1976, and after his retirement he was honored as Professor Emeritus. Bob retired to College Station where he enjoyed tending his yard full of colorful wild flowers.
Bob married Eleanor McGeorge, whom he met while they were students at UA, in 1938. They were married for 70 years when she preceded him in death.
Survivors include his sons, Robert M. "Mac" Holcomb, Larry Holcomb and wife Judy, all of Houston; daughter Helen Holcomb and husband Sid Graham of Dallas; stepsister, Elva Leppla, of Mesa, Ariz.; his half-sister, Karen Dannenbaum, of Albuquerque, N.M.; and four grandchildren.