Wesley O. Pipes, 81, Drexel professor

Posted: May 25, 2013

Wesley O. Pipes, 81, of Haddon Township, a former environmental engineering professor at Drexel University, died of aplastic anemia, a bone marrow disease, Monday, May 20, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Dr. Pipes, who headed the Drexel civil engineering department from 1984 to 1987, was president in 1975-76 of what is now the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, an organization with members in universities worldwide.

"His father was a high school principal in Dallas," where Dr. Pipes grew up, daughter Susan Pipes Gobreski said, "and his family valued education."

He was the valedictorian of the Class of 1949 at Wilson High School in Dallas, where he was born.

"He understood his family history better than anyone I've ever met. This wasn't a hobby with him," his daughter said.

"His family goes back many generations in Texas," she said. "He had remembered stories that his grandparents told him. He had paid attention."

After two years of studies at Yale University, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1953 and a master's degree in 1955, both in biology at North Texas State University, before earning a doctorate in sanitary engineering at Northwestern University in 1959.

He began his teaching career as a civil engineering lecturer at Northwestern in 1958 and rose to professor of civil engineering and of biological sciences before leaving in 1974.

In 1969, he was a founding faculty member of the Northwestern Students for a Better Environment.

"He had a real commitment to that issue," his daughter said.

In 1975, he became the first L.D. Betz Professor of Ecology at Drexel and, after heading its civil engineering department, retired in 1998.

Charles N. Haas, Drexel's current L.D. Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering - the other chair set up by Mr. Betz - said that besides his teaching, Dr. Pipes "was very much interested in providing water and sanitation for rural communities."

For instance, his resumé, which lists publication of more than 100 scholarly papers, cites advisory work for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Drinking Water from the 1970s into the 1990s.

"He did a lot of consulting for the National Research Council," Haas said, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences.

And he was a founding member in 1989 of the International Environmetrics Society.

"He was wonderful," Haas said. "Very personable. Very down-to-earth."

Besides daughter Susan, Dr. Pipes is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jane; sons Wesley W. and Gordon Pipes; daughter Phylis Pipes Jha; stepsons Donald and Jeffrey Edwards; stepdaughter Judith Edwards Ladd; a sister; and 13 grandchildren. He is also survived by former wives Thea Adams and Karin Sergel.

He was predeceased by daughter Victoria Pipes.

A memorial service was set for 11 a.m. Friday, May 24, at the First Baptist Church of Haddonfield, 124 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, N.J. 08033.

Donations may be made at http://carolinehospice.com.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.beckett-brownandhodgesfuneralhome.com.


Contact Walter F. Naedele

at 610-313-8134, wnaedele@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.

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