Robert (Bob) Iding
Bob Iding - 1962 Bob Iding - 2009

It all started in 1953 when I came out to Garden Grove from New York and found myself in Mrs. Greene's fourth grade class at Marie L. Hare school with the likes of Marti Wright, Roger Baker, Tim Howard and the other nine-year-olds that emerged from the orange groves and avocado orchards that morning. Things got off to a very bad start that first day of school, since I showed up with short pants and a New York accent, which did not go over well with the blue-jeaned and white-T-shirted reception committee waiting for me on the playground.

But things gradually improved and I managed to graduate from Rancho with the rest of the class in 1962. Then I was sent up to Stanford and UC Berkeley for an 8- to 10-year stretch, finally being released in 1972. That sounds like a long time, but I felt no pain since it was a wonderful time to be a graduate student at Berkeley, at least once you learned how to safely move between classes, always keeping an escape route open behind you in case you stumbled into tear gas or a police sweep. Then I managed to extend the easy life a few more years as a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at UC.

Finally it was time to get a real job - as a professor in the School of Architecture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. But the lure of the big city was too much and eventually I teamed up with one of my former professors at UC to open in San Francisco the first branch office for a small structural engineering company based in Chicago. Our specialty was evaluating buildings and other structures that had collapsed or were in danger of collapse. Half the job was fairly high-level academic analysis and the other half was wading through the mud and snow to look at collapsed bridges. My own specialty was the response of buildings and bridges to fire, particularly evaluating their residual strength after a fire and what needed to be done to repair them.

By the year 2000 the company had grown to 12 branch offices and 450 people and I decided that was enough engineering for one lifetime. However, retirement didn't last very long - only until the World Trade Center collapsed. It turned out that one of our best clients was unfortunate enough to have written the property damage insurance policy for the twin towers (to the tune of 14 billion dollars), so I spent a year on that project doing technical support for the inevitable litigation. Then some final papers and a few speaking engagements to wrap up the WTC work and I was finally retired for real.

At the moment (and for quite a long while) I am married. Her name is Sharon and she is a researcher at the UC medical school in San Francisco. Her current projects deal with smoking cessation (finding new ways to help people quit smoking). We live in the Berkeley Hills a few blocks from campus in an old house that is always asking for more attention. The house is so old that it has a maid's back staircase, although the maid left during the 1929 Crash and unfortunately has never returned. We are firm believers in the retire-in-place philosophy and don't plan to move away from Berkeley, although we do manage to spend a couple months each year out of the country to get a little change of scenery.

So, best wishes to everyone in the Class of '62 and we hope to see you all again at the 50th reunion!

Bob and Sharon Iding - 2009