June 2023 OES Beacon

Obituary for Joseph R. Vadus

Edited by Steve Holt and Robert Wernli

Joseph R. Vadus of Potomac, MD (USA), passed away to a greater life on October 17, 2022. He was 93 years old.

Joe Vadus, General Co-Chair of UT02 Tokyo

Joe was a 1946 graduate of Minersville High School, and following graduation, he joined the Marine Corps serving in the South Pacific and Japan. He was a member of the First Marine Division Association. In 1952, he married Gloria Lapinsky of Forestville, PA and graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a MS in Ocean Engineering from Long Island University, NY. He was employed by Sperry Rand Corp., Great Neck, Long Island, NY until 1972. He then was employed by the US department of Commerce, National Ocean Service, Washington DC and served for 15 years as US Chairman of the US-Japan Program in Natural Resource (UJNR), and the US-France Cooperative Program in Oceanography. In the latter, he was US Program Leader in finding the RMS TITANIC in 1985. In 1996, he retired from the US Government.

Joe and his wife and best friend Gloria traveled together to most of the capital cities of the world, participating in international programs and conferences. He was a Life Fellow of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Emeritus Fellow with the Marine Technology Society (MTS).

Photographer Joe at OCEANS ’07 Aberdeen

Joe was highly involved in both the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) and MTS. In MTS he served on the Executive Board as Vice President, Technical Affairs for 10 years, and received the MTS Special Commendation and Award in 1988, the Compass Distinguished Achievement Award in 1990. In 2006, Joe received the prestigious Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering.

Joe was instrumental in the growth of the Oceanic Engineering Society and he held several AdCom and ExCom positions during his lifetime. He was also the Conference Chair for OCEANS ’76 in Washington, DC. He was awarded the IEEE OES Distinguished Service Award (DSA) in 1985, the OES Emeritus Award in 2015, and the OES Distinguished Technical Achievement Award (DTA) in 2012.

OCEANS ’76 Chair, Joe Vadus, 1976 Council of Oceanic Engineering President Edward Early, 1976 IEEE President Joseph K. Dillard, and 1976 Marine Technology Society President Phillip Eisenberg.

Joe’s international activities were also highly recognized. For 20 years of technical service related to France, including his leadership in the joint U.S.-France program that discovered the Titanic, Joseph Vadus was awarded the French National Order of Merit by the President of France and received the award in 2000 from the French embassy in Washington D.C.

Joe’s international awards continued with the first Techno-Ocean Award by the Consortium of Japa-
nese Organizations—for leadership in ocean science and technology The Techno-Ocean Network recognizes that he truly deserves to be the first person to receive the Techno-Ocean Award on the occasion of OCEAN-Techno-Ocean 2004 (OTO’04) with the theme, Bridges Across the Ocean.

For additional photos of Joe, please see the Blast from the Past in this issue.

Following are personal comments from OES members:

Steve Holt –Joe was an inspiring influence to me as the new OES Secretary in 2001 and he was very helpful in promoting and guiding me through the process of becoming a Senior Member of the IEEE. He was also instrumental in encouraging my daughter Michelle in taking the Japanese language in High School and Chinese language in college.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at OCEANS-Techno-Ocean ’04, Kobe, Japan. On the far right are Thomas Wiener (OES President), Joe Vadus (OES VP International) and Tamaki Ura (OTO ’04 General Chair)(above).

Two photos are reproduced below showing Joe and two conferences he was associated with. They are from the journal article “The IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society at Forty: The Challenges of an Evolving Society”, which is on our OES website at: https://ieeeoes.org/menu/history-of-oes/.

Joe will be sadly missed both as a valued member of the IEEE OES and as a lifelong friend.

Robert Wernli – Joe was one of the most influential associates in both my technical and societal endeavors. From working with me on both ROV and OCEANS conferences, to supporting me on the UJNR committee in Japan and working together on OES RECON for a couple decades, we traveled the world together. I also joined him with the initiation of the Underwater Technology (UT) 1998 symposiums. Joe co-chaired the UT ’98 symposium and I co-chaired the Technical Committee for the 1998, 2000 and 2002 events. With Joe’s support, I began co-chairing the symposium and have continued to do so essentially every other year including the latest UT ’23 symposium, which, held in March, was once again an exceptional event. Joe was a great associate and friend and he will surely be missed.

T. Ura, J. Vadus, A. Sagalevitch, R. Wernli at UT ‘98

Stan Chamberlain – My association with Joe Vadus goes back to his days with MTS before he became involved in leadership with OES. He chaired a number of plenary sessions at MTS and OCEANS conferences. He had a knack for setting the sessions off on a friendly humorous note by starting his talks with a joke, most of which were distinguished by their hilarious corniness. Joe’s role as US Program Leader in the search and location of the TITANIC was no doubt the reason for bringing Bob Ballard and his video footage of the TITANIC discovery to the 1985 OCEANS Conference. If my memory from my time as OES President in 1985 serves me correctly, I believe that was the first public presentation of that historic footage taken just a few months before the Conference. Joe, having served with distinction in MTS, was also instrumental in strengthening the OES and MTS relationship in the up and down cosponsorship of the OCEANS conferences.

Tamaki Ura – Joe, you have been instrumental in establishing the IEEE/OES Japan Chapter, organizing the UT Symposium and leading to the OCEANS Conference in Kobe in collaboration with the Techno-Ocean Network. As a result, you have strengthened the ties between Japanese and U.S. marine engineering professionals and promoted exchanges between the two countries. We sincerely appreciate your support and efforts. Joe, please watch over us and those who will follow us from heaven.