d. Dec. 8, 2013
Joe was born in 1936 in Chicago to George and Georgia DeVries and died at home in Davis on Dec. 8, 2013, after a 17-year battle with prostate cancer. He attended schools in Alameda and college in Michigan, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering from both Calvin College and the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan. He returned to California in 1961 to work for the state Department of Water Resources Aqueduct Design Branch. He received a Ph.D. from UC Davis in 1978.
Joe married Donna Hefner from Woodland in November 1968 and was the father of Jeffrey S. DeVries of New York City and Doney L. DeVries Biggs (Mark) of Woodland, and grandfather of Ellora and Carson Biggs. He is also survived by sisters Marie Van Antwerpen (Bert) of Lake City, Mich., and Sharon Pasma (Chuck) of Everett, Wash.
His engineering career spanned 50 years in the fields of hydraulic engineering, irrigation system analysis and hydrology. He was a registered civil engineer in California, a registered professional hydrologist with the American Institute of Hydrology and a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He began working at UC Davis in 1972 and served as a research engineer, engineer-in-charge of the J. Amorocho Hydraulics Laboratory, northern regional coordinator and associate director of the Water Resources Center and lecturer in the departments of civil and environmental engineering and land, air and water resources. From 1978 to 1981, he also had an engineering appointment with the federal Hydrologic Engineering Center in Davis.
Joe taught courses at UCD, at Sacramento State University, through University of California Extension, the Computational Hydrology Institute, and for professional groups such as ASCE and the Floodplain Management Association. He retired from UC Davis in 1993 and became a consulting engineer working with various firms, state, federal and international agencies. From 2001 through 2012 he held the position of principal engineer with David Ford Consulting Engineers Inc. in Sacramento.
He received great pleasure in encountering students who had taken courses from him, and who thanked him for receiving practical engineering knowledge from his teaching. He received an award for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Service from University Extension at UCD and an award from the California Extreme Precipitation Symposium in recognition of his “lifetime of service as a teacher, adviser and mentor to colleagues who work to minimize the adverse impacts of extreme precipitation in California.”
His consulting work included projects for the United Nations, the World Bank, the state of Gujarat in India; computer model applications in Japan and Canada; improvement of flood forecasting with the World Meteorological Organization, a U.S. AID irrigation project in Morocco and co-teaching a class in Taiwan. He made five trips to Morocco, 11 trips to India, two to Japan and one to Taiwan and one to Argentina. He assisted federal, county and city governmental agencies with training, review of hydrologic models, studies and floodplain analysis.
Joe had a lifelong love of music, and in the 1960s was a member of a folk singing group. He enjoyed entertaining family and friends with his guitar and singing. He also sang in church choirs and with the Davis International House choir. He had a real passion for the outdoors, and in his 20s was an avid outdoorsman and mountain climber. He was a member of the Sierra Club for more than 50 years. In more recent years, he greatly enjoyed summer excursions to the Hefner family cabin at Bucks Lake in the Northern Sierra.
Joe and Donna enjoyed international travel and Donna accompanied him on working trips to India, Morocco, Japan and Taiwan and to international conferences. They also traveled together in the U.S. and to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand for pleasure and loved taking ocean and river cruises.
Joe was an active member of Living Stones Christian Reformed Church at 1390 Florin Road in Sacramento and loved singing with the Praise Team. Both a memorial service at the church and a later celebration of life party will be scheduled after the holidays.
Those wishing to make a memorial donation are asked to consider the Living Stones Christian Reformed Church, Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California or their favorite charity. A Joe DeVries Graduate Student Award Fund has been established in the UC Davis College of Engineering. Those interested may obtain information from the Office of Development and External Relations, College of Engineering, One Shields Drive, Davis, CA 95616.
The family would like to thank the Sutter Home Health Hospice team, Dr. Allison Alcalay and Your Home Nursing Services staff for their loving care during the final stages of Joe’s lengthy illness.