Jacobs Associates has announced, with regret, the passing of George Wickham, former Jacobs Associates Principal, on October 25. He was 89 years old.
Mr. Wickham was born in 1921 in Fremont, Nebraska, and moved with his parents to Mill Valley, California, as a child. During World War II he served as a reconnaissance pilot for the Navy, based in Alaska. He later earned a civil engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
In 1964, Mr. Wickham was elected to the Mill Valley City Council and served for eight years, two of them as mayor, and was active in politics through the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Mr. Wickham joined Jacobs Associates in the early 1960s, after more than 15 years in tunnel construction engineering and estimating with Utah Construction Company. He was well known in the heavy civil industry for his prowess in producing accurate tunnel cost estimates. His work took him around the world to places such as Brazil and Africa. In 1974, he and former Associate Henry Tiedemann wrote a research paper titled Ground Support Prediction Model—RSR Concept for the United States Bureau of Mines. This paper significantly enhanced Jacobs Associates’ reputation in the field of tunnel design and introduced the Rock Structure Rating (RSR) methodology, which became a landmark resource for tunnel design through its approach of quantifying and predicting the support required for a tunnel based on key geologic parameters. Many other authors built on this work to produce the rock mass classification systems that are in prevalent use today.
Former Jacobs Associates Chairman of the Board Pete Petrofsky stated, “Wickham epitomized the original Jacobs Associates concept of building a consulting firm by hiring engineers with practical construction company experience.”
Mr. Wickham retired in 1981 after more than 15 years with Jacobs Associates and moved to Penn Valley, in the Sierra foothills northeast of Sacramento. He was married to the late Carolyne Marie Phelp and is survived by his three children, nine grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.