A Long and Remarkable Life

The web site commemorates the the life of Rex Alfred Elder.

Rex lived for over 100 years and saw many changes in the world during his life. Rex was born October 4, 1917 in northern Pennsylvania where his father managed the lumber mills. He remembered riding on the draft horses that skidded the logs to the mill in those days. Rex grew up surveying properties for lumber with his dad, learning the mill trades., and driving lumber trucks in the 1930s. After getting degrees from Carnegie Institute of Technology and Oregon State University, he worked as a hydraulic engineer at Tennessee Valley Authority. During World War II, his work helped supply critical power to the Manhattan Project uranium enrichment plants at nearby Oak Ridge, and to trace waterborne emissions of “unknown types” in the local river.

Rex began jetting around the world in the 1960s, visiting international engineering facilities including many in the USSR and Iron Curtain counties during the height of the Cold War. Later he managed the Hydraulics/Hydrology group of Bechtel Corporation, recruiting the top hydraulic engineers in the world to tackle difficult hydraulic problems. In his later years, Rex mentored a new generation of hydraulic engineers, who grew up developing increasingly sophisticated computer models, but who had little experience in ground truthing the results from these numerical models.

Read Rex’s obituary

Read Rex’s obituary and career highlights on the IAHR website

See a video of Rex talking about his parents and grandparents

Come back again. More content will be added soon.

Please feel free to contribute your thoughts and stories of Rex’s Life.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

100th Birthday
Family and friends join Rex for his 100th Birthday.

One thought on “A Long and Remarkable Life”

  1. Rex was my first boss and had a major impact on my professional career. Rex was a good friend and although I was only at the hydraulic lab for 5 years we maintained our friendship long after we had both retired. We were both active in ASCE and worked together on the ASCE Hydraulic Structures Committee. Good job Rex, I’ll remember you when I too reach 100.
    Ralph Weaver


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