Robert Whitman

bobRobert V. (Bob)Whitman, of Lexington, died February 25th. He was born in 1928 in Edgewood, Pennsylvania, to Edwin A. Whitman and Elsie Van Duyne Whitman. He pursued a childhood interest in civil engineering for his entire career, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1948, a master’s degree from M.I.T. in 1949, and a doctorate from M.I.T. in structural engineering in 1951. Upon completion of his doctoral studies, he served in the Civil Engineer Corps at the US Naval Shipyard in Pearl Harbor from 1954 to 1956.

He joined the faculty at M.I.T. in 1957 and taught in the Department of Civil Engineering until his retirement in 1993. His commitment to M.I.T. students continued for many years beyond his retirement in his role of Professor Emeritus. Among his many professional achievements,  Dr. Whitman co-authored the book Soil Mechanics, an influential reference text for geotechnical engineering, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and served as President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. He was a 1987 recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers Terzaghi Award and was awarded the EERI’s George W. Housner Medal, recognizing sustained leadership and contributions to earthquake engineering, in 2010.

In addition to his professional commitments, Whitman was a committed civic leader. He served as an elected member of the Town Meeting in Lexington for 37 years and served terms as chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Permanent Building Committee, and more recently, the Residents' Association at Brookhaven.

He is survived by his loving wife Elizabeth of 57 years, his daughter Jill Whitman Marsee, son-in-law Donald Marsee, and grandsons Robert and David Marsee of Washington, and his daughter Gwen Whitman Kaebnick, son-in-law Gregory Kaebnick, and granddaughters Rebecca and Hannah Kaebnick of New York. He was preceded in death by his brother Philip Whitman and daughter Martha.

A memorial service will be held at the Church of Our Redeemer in Lexington on Thursday, March 1st, at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Citizens for Lexington Conservation Inc., P.O. Box 292, Lexington, MA 02420-0003 or to the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust (

Sunday, August 12th there will be an OPEN HOUSE in Celebration of the Life of Bob Whitman at the Niblic from 2 to 4.

Boston Globe published an article about - click here to see.

MIT published an article about Bob - click here.


The following website has an oral history of Bob Whitman with some wonderful photos of him and his family near the end of the manuscript along with references to Chebeague.


bob whitman

Playing Croquet at the Great Gatsby Croquet Tournament and enjoying lunch

with Betsy
With Betsy in 2009 at a Commons Event