Remembering Anestis “Andy” Veletsos (1927-2018)

Andy Veletsos Memorial
Houston, Texas
November 1, 2018

by Anil K. Chopra

I first met Andy Veletsos in 1969 at the 4th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Santiago, Chile. Andy was already a big name in earthquake engineering, and I was an unknown young academics at the University of California at Berkeley. Yet he treated me graciously, a quality of his that all of you know.

Thereafter, our paths crossed once a year at conferences. There I would listen to Andy present a paper and marvel at the creativity underlying this research and his ability to communicate it effectively. I read every new paper he published because without fail it would be enlightening intellectually and a stellar example of what a journal paper should be. In admiration, I decided to invite him to spend a semester at Berkeley and present a special course. I sat in his class with graduate students and watched in awe a master teacher at the top of his craft. This was in the late 1970s.

That is when Hamida, who is here with me, and I met Katherine and the young Ann Marie and Melinda, who became friends with our daughter, Nasreen, who was similar in age. Every time Andy and Katherine visited San Francisco, we would spend an evening together. Katherine became fond of San Francisco’s famous sour dough bread. We still remember her carrying a big bag full of bread as she boarded the plane back to Houston. Katherine, we are sorry that our flight was too early this morning to get fresh bread for you.

For those of you who do not know Andy’s professional work, let me say a few words. Andy’s research had a profound influence on the development of structural dynamics and earthquake engineering. His work formed the foundation of this subject. It is now a part of building codes; engineers use it every day without knowing its origins. It is taught in graduate courses all over the world. New researchers start by reading his papers to embark on their careers.

Because Andy was an outstanding teacher and his writing exemplary, I suggested to him that he should write a textbook. After several years of reminding him, I realized that it was not high enough on Andy’s list of priorities. So during one of his visits to San Francisco, I said to him that if he wasn’t going to write one, then perhaps I would.

Now in its 5th edition, my textbook first appeared in 1995. Let me paraphrase a couple of sentences from the Preface to the first edition:

I wish to express my deep appreciation to Andy Veletsos for his influence on my professional growth. Through his research, writing, and lectures, he influenced my teaching and research philosophy. His work defined the approach adopted for Chapters 6, 7, and 14.

Andy Veletsos’ death marks the passing of a giant in earthquake engineering. But he will live on through his writings and many Ph.D. students from all over the world.


See also: Anestis S. Veletsos, 1927-2018 (submitted by Christos Giarlelis, George E. Mylonakis, and Panos Dakoulas)