Stanley M. Bemben of New Britain, Connecticut, a gifted structural analyst, former University of Massachusetts Amherst civil engineering professor, and consultant, has died at 85.
In his youth, he boasted that he knew how to build things and “could do it better than others.” It was fitting, then, that he chose to make civil engineering his career. Proving he could indeed do it better than others, his project work in several states and countries saw him build mortarless stone walls and assess dams, high-rises and other structures.
Bemben, P.E., M.ASCE, earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University and was a recipient of two Ford Foundation Fellowship awards. In the late 1950s, he traveled with a Vancouver, British Columbia firm to work on the Terzaghi Dam. It was there that he met his future wife. By the time he joined ASCE in 1956, he felt that his life path was set in stone.
That path led Bemben to teach civil engineering at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where for 27 years he educated many on the intricacies of such matters as Connecticut Valley Varved Clay (a soft-soil deposit) and the postglacial sand that he dubbed “BBY” (Bemben Back Yard). He authored many technical papers as well, presenting one to Geo-Congress 2013 called “The Role of Natural Cementation on Consolidation of Connecticut Valley Varved Clays.”
Bemben also served as a consultant to private clients and engineering firms, and this work included assignments for the government during wartime. A Life Member of ASCE, the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers awarded him its 2006 Benjamin Wright Award for outstanding practice and significant contributions to the civil engineering profession.
He played soccer in school and once lost a fierce game of table tennis to tennis legend Bobby Riggs.
Proud of his Polish ancestry, Bemben once said, “Our family’s story is the American dream.”