Bob Eustis (1/15/1913 -- 5/24/2018)

Most of you have known Bob Eustis for some years in this Forum if not elsewhere. It is now my pleasure to tell you more about him than he himself will reveal.

Bob received a Master’s Degree in mechanical engineering in 1944, after which he went to work for NASA. In 1953 he was awarded the DSc degree at MIT, where he also taught. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. A long-time Stanford professor, he received the Tau Beta Pi award for distinguished undergraduate teaching. He was the Clarence and Patricia Woodard Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He founded the High Temperature Gas Dynamics Laboratory at Stanford in 1963 and directed it until 1980. He is a recipient of the Centennial Certificate for the American Society for Engineering Education (1993). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1986), and he received the Emerson Electric Technology Award. In 1973 he received a medal of achievement from the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union for his work in magneto hydrodynamics as well as for his skill in faking the consumption of vodka during endless obligatory rounds of toasts. Eventually, looking for new worlds to conquer, Bob forsook research for administration and became an associate dean in the Stanford School of Engineering—a post he held for a number of years.

In 1990 Bob retired from Stanford and started Eustis Designs—a custom furniture design and manufacturing company. His designs were truly innovative and elegant, and were based on a joint technology he invented and patented. This technology allowed him to implement designs of astonishing daring, using wood. Without the Eustis joint, these designs could only have been executed as metal constructions. As such, they would have lacked the warmth and inviting “give” of Bob’s fine wood creations. After ten years of development, Bob assigned his patent to Stanford in order to create a fund to help support graduate students in engineering.

Retaining certain rights to his patented joint technology, Bob then started an internet company to sell fine chairs of his design. And when this enterprise ran into the buzz saw of the Great Recession, Bob shut it down to focus on a new interest—the production of wine, which is the topic of today’s talk.

Although much more could be said about Bob’s highly distinguished career, I now want to turn to the part that cannot be found in a resume. In so doing, I’ve saved the best for last. To wit, I know of no finer, nicer, supportive, encouraging, generous man than Bob Eustis. His former students are of the same opinion, as are his friends, colleagues, relatives, and employees. I couldn’t have a finer role model. Bob Eustis is my hero.




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