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2014 News Releases



Professor Emeritus Charles (Chuck) Ladd, geotechnical expert, dies

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Professor Emeritus Charles "Chuck" Ladd III Professor Emeritus Charles “Chuck” Ladd III

Charles (Chuck) Cushing Ladd III, age 81, passed away peacefully at his home on Aug. 4, 2014, surrounded by his family. Up until his hospitalization at the end of July, he had spent much of his time happily working, most recently on a soft clay embankment stability problem.

Enrolled in a joint academic program, in 1955 he received a BA in mathematics and physics from Bowdoin College and the SB in Building Engineering and Construction from MIT. He continued at MIT in Civil Engineering for an SM in 1957 and ScD in 1961. After graduation he joined the Course 1 faculty and remained until retiring in 2001 as the Edmund K. Turner Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He was internationally known for outstanding contributions to teaching, research and practice of geotechnical engineering.

A gifted teacher with a style emulated by many former students as they became faculty members, Professor Ladd was also an innovative researcher on advanced technical topics. He was internationally sought after as a consultant for large, complex civil projects. In 1983 he was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering. Over the years he received many research awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) including the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, the Croes Medal, the Norman Medal and the Terzaghi Lecture Award. In 1995, he was elected as a distinguished member of ASCE and received the Hogentogler Award from the American Society for Testing and Materials. In 2012, Professor Ladd was awarded the ASCE Outstanding Project and Leaders lifetime achievement award for his contributions to engineering education. He leaves a lasting legacy and tribute to his life’s work with his commitment to his students at MIT and significant contributions to geotechnical engineering.

The patriarch of a large and tight-knit family, Professor Ladd enjoyed bringing them on winter cruises and treating them to summer vacations. He loved his students and colleagues, often inviting them to attend family functions, celebrations and holidays, and his signature punch concoction served at Christmas parties was legendary. An avid tennis player when he was younger, he picked up golf in his later years with an engineering approach to the game.

Professor Ladd was a devoted husband of 55 years to the late Carol Ballou. He leaves his fiancée Elaine Burkley of Sudbury, Mass.; his children Melissa Northrup of Boxborough, Mass., Charles C. Ladd IV and his wife Marcia of Mountain Top, Penn., Ruth McGraw and her husband James of Essex, Mass., Matthew Ladd and his wife Annette of Little Compton, R.I.; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; and a brother, Richard Ladd and his wife Linda of Albuquerque, N.M.

A memorial service celebrating Professor Ladd’s life will be held on Aug. 22 at 3 pm at the West Concord Union Church, 1317 Main St, Concord, Mass., followed by a reception at the Concord Country Club, 246 Old Road to Nine Acre Corner, Concord, Mass. Relatives, friends, and colleagues are kindly invited.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in his name may be made to the following organizations: National Academy of Engineering,; Trinitarian Congregational Church, 54 Walden St., Concord, Mass. 01742; or Emerson Hospital, 133 Old Road to Nine Acre Corner, Concord, Mass.