Donald Albert Sawyer. P.E., PhD, F.ASCE, passed away on November 5, 2023, after a long, happy life of 95 years. He was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters, one brother, and his wife, Betty Angeline Lee Sawyer with whom he was happily married for 71 years. He leaves behind his beloved daughters Deborah Adeline Sawyer, Melissa Suzanne Ryan, Patricia Diane Mills, and Dona Cathleen Sawyer, many grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Deborah and Dona live in Arkansas, Suzanne lives in Florida, and Patricia lives in Georgia. Donald and Angie moved to Mountain View, AR so they could be closer to two of their daughters and their families in the Autumn of their life. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2023 at The Dome, First Assembly of God Church at 2:00 pm.
He was born in Fort Myers, Florida on November 24, 1927, to Meta Brennan Blackwell and George Lamar Sawyer. He graduated from Fort Myers High School in 1945. Following graduation from high school, he entered the U.S. Army where he served in the occupation forces in Germany. Upon his discharge from the army, he entered the University of Florida where he began his studies in Civil Engineering. He graduated with High Honors in 1950 with the degree Bachelor of Civil Engineering, and was placed in the University Hall of Fame for Scholarship having passed all courses with a 4.0 grade point average. The following year, he received a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Florida. He was then employed by Parsons, Brinkerhoff, Hall, and Macdonald and worked as a Field Engineer on the construction of the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay, FL. After the bridge was completed, he re-entered the University of Florida where he worked as Instructor of Civil Engineering and Research Assistant as he pursued the degree Doctor of Philosophy, which he earned in 1959. During this time he consulted with the Crom Corporation, several architects, and the Corps of Engineers on structures at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral during the Apollo Project.
After receiving his PhD, he held the positions of Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Florida. At this time he was also commissioned as a LT (USNR) in the Civil Engineering Corps of the U.S. Navy. In 1965 he left the University of Florida to become Head Professor of Civil Engineering at Auburn University, Auburn, AL. In 1968, he left Auburn to become Associate Dean of Engineering at the University of Miami, FL. He left academic life in 1972 to become Vice President and Chief Engineer at CAFCO Engineers in Tampa, FL. There, he did the structural design of several schools, commercial buildings, and state prisons. In 1976 he left CAFCO to become Vice President and Chief Engineer at Brown Steel Contractors, of Newnan, GA. There he directed the design of approximately 2600 water tanks built in many parts of the United States. During this time, he was registered as a Professional Engineer in 26 states. He retired to Cedar Key, FL in 1997, where he continued to consult on various water tank problems and projects.
He was a Life and Fellow Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was President of the Florida Section of the ASCE for the year 1963, and was the sponsor of the Vertical Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center as the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement of 1965. While at Auburn University he served as Director of the Alabama Section of ASCE. He had been a member of the American Concrete Institute, the Prestressed Concrete Institute, the International Association of Shell Structures, and the Florida Society of Professional engineers. He was a member of several college honorary societies such as Sigma Tau, Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, and Chi Epsilon. He was a member of the social fraternity Sigma Chi. He has published nine papers in his technical societies and has written significant discussions of five papers by others.
During his active years he was one of the ASCE representatives to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology where he served as Team Member, and later as Team Leader, on accreditation evaluations of engineering schools throughout the United States.